Wednesday 17 January 2018

Quinn case against IBRC can proceed, court rules

Tim Healy

THE courts have the power to allow existing actions proceed against Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), including that by the family of bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn, a judge has ruled.

Confusion had arisen as to whether the courts had jurisdiction to lift the "immediate stay" in the new IBRC Act halting all proceedings against the bank.

The Act, enacted last month, provides for no stay on proceedings by the bank against others.

About one-third of existing cases before the Commercial Court are against IBRC and the stay has caused uncertainty whether any steps at all may be taken in relation to them with several judges raising the issue since the Act came into force.

When lawyers for the Quinns applied last month for the stay on their case to be lifted, the issue whether the court could do so was referred to the High Court for clarification.

Lawyers for the Quinns and for IBRC both argued the court could lift the stay and it was never intended to be permanent.

In his judgment yesterday, Mr Justice Sean Ryan said it was "impossible to conceive" the Oireachtas had, via the stay in Section 6.2.a of the Act, terminated the Quinns' case "in an instant" and deprived them of the right to apply to court.

Any such interpretation would involve "extensive and substantial interference with constitutional rights in modes that are discriminatory and unjustified and unnecessary in the circumstances".

The decision means the action by Mrs Patricia Quinn and her children can proceed once the criminal proceedings against former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick and two senior Anglo executives are finished.

The Quinns allege they have no liability for some €2.34bn loans advanced by Anglo to Quinn companies on grounds those loans were unlawfully made to prop up the bank's share price.

Pre-trial applications can, however, proceed and the Quinns are expected to apply shortly for permission to join the Department of Finance and the Central Bank, as regulator, as co-defendants with IBRC to their case.

The IBRC Act, providing for the liquidation of IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide, was enacted last month.

Irish Independent

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