Tuesday 24 April 2018

Retired solicitor Brian O'Donnell and wife lose appeal against High Court's dismissal of their bid to have bankruptcy overturned

Brian O'Donnell and his wife Mary Patricia
Brian O'Donnell and his wife Mary Patricia

Tim Healy

RETIRED solicitor Brian O'Donnell and his wife have lost their appeal against the High Court's dismissal of their bid to have their bankruptcy overturned.

In the High Court last April, Ms Justice Caroline Costello ruled Brian and Dr Mary Patricia O'Donnell had not advanced any grounds or any new evidence as a basis for an annulment of the bankruptcy obtained against them by Bank of Ireland (BOI) in 2013.

The three judge Court of Appeal, in a judgment today agreed and also upheld the High Court's finding the couple had sought to advance arguments which they were either in

a position to make or, with reasonable diligence, could have made as early as March 2011.

Those arguments included the couple's claim they had dealt with Bank of Ireland Private Banking (BOIPB), rather than BOI, over their debts of €71.5m.

They also claimed BOIPB was not a licensed bank.

Mr O'Donnell claimed they only "twigged" in 2014 all their dealings were with BOIPB but the appeal court agreed with the High Court the issue as to whether or not BOIPB was licensed to carry on business as a bank was irrelevant.

It also agreed the status of the bank could not be said to have been concealed, much less fraudulently concealed, by the bank.

The appeal court also ruled the High Court had correctly refused Mr O'Donnell'as application to strike out, on hearsay and other groudns, evidence of some bank officials.

Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan, giving the judgment of the court with which Mr Justice Sean Ryan and Mr Justice Michael Peart agreed, concluded the couple had advanced

no grounds on which the appeal court could find the High Court judge erred in her decision.

The couple had not disputed they had received the monies at issue, she also noted.

There must be compelling reasons to undo the machinery of bankruptcy and no such reasons were advanced, she held.

Mr O'Donnell was not in court and the judges agreed to an application by his son Blake to adjourn to January costs issues.

Mark Sanfey SC, for Chris Lehane, the official administering the O'Donnells bankruptcy, said he would be seeking his costs.

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