Sunday 25 February 2018

Siblings given a month to leave luxury family home worth €7m - court

Blake, Alexandra and Blaise O'Donnell, the son and daughters of Brian O'Donnell and wife Pat, arriving at court. Picture: Courtpix
Blake, Alexandra and Blaise O'Donnell, the son and daughters of Brian O'Donnell and wife Pat, arriving at court. Picture: Courtpix
Brian O' Donnell pictured arriving at the Four Courts for a Supreme Court action. Pic: Collins Courts
Blaise O Donnell, daughter of solicitor Brian O Donnell, pictured leaving the Four Courts earlier this week after a Supreme Court action - also in picture background, her brother, Blake. Picture: Collins Courts

Tim Healy

THE adult children of solicitor Brian O'Donnell have been given another month to leave their home so it can be taken over by a bank-appointed receiver.

Last December, the Supreme Court rejected the appeal by Blaise, Blake, Bruce and Alexandra O'Donnell against a High Court order clearing the way for Bank of Ireland to take possession of the luxury house at Gorse Hill, Vico Road, Killiney.

It is now said to be worth up to €7m.

At that stage, the bank told the court it wanted vacant possession by February 1 but, when the case was back before the court today to deal with costs and final orders, the court was told three of the children remain there. 

Cian Ferriter SC, for the bank, sought its legal costs and indicated the bank was prepared to permit the O'Donnells remain until February 11.

Blake O'Donnell, representing his siblings, opposed costs on grounds including the conduct of the bank of the High Court proceedings and said he wanted to file an affidavit concerning the subject of the proceedings and a possible application for a mistrial.

Chief Justice Susan Denham said the issue of a mistrial does not arise.

After Mr O'Donnell argued there were various errors in relation to the High Court's conduct of the proceedings, Mr Justice John Murray said the Supreme Court decision on this matter was final.

When Mr O'Donnell raised further issues, including relating to whether or not Bank of Ireland Private Bank was a licensed bank, the Chief Justice said, if Mr O'Donnell wanted to make such allegations, that was for "another court and another day".

Mr O'Donnell argued his side should not have to bear the legal costs on grounds including the attitude of the bank which he said had failed to discuss or mediate matters and instead issued "threats", "injunctions" and "search orders".

The home on Vico Road in Killiney, Dublin
The home on Vico Road in Killiney, Dublin
The home on Vico Road in Killiney, Dublin.

He and his siblings intended to take further proceedings, he said.

It was unreasonable to expect the children to vacate the property by February 11 given its size and the "logistics" involved.  It was a large property containing many things difficult to move, he added.

Rossa Fanning BL, for the receiver, Tom Kavanagh, said he was appointed two and a half years ago and wished to take peaceful possession. 

Mr Ferriter, for the bank, said the O'Donnells appear to be engaged in vexatious litigation including against counsel and solicitors.

The bank's position was this was the end of these proceedings and it should get its costs but it would agree to the O'Donnell's being given a further month to get their affairs in order.

Giving the court's decision, the Chief Justice made a formal order dismissing the appeal, granted costs to the bank of the proceedings in the High and Supreme Courts and directed the O'Donnells to leave Gorse Hill by midday on March 2 next.

Gorse Hill was acquired in 1997/98 for nearly €1.4m as the O'Donnell family residence in what the court described as part of a "very complex legal structure" involving the setting up of a discretionary trust.

An adjoining piece of land was later acquired, also under a trust, for €1.5m with the original house demolished and the site redeveloped as a family residence by the O'Donnell parents. It is now said to be worth up to €7m.

In December 2011, the bank obtained judgment for €71.5m against the O'Donnells parents.

Mr Kavanagh later sought possession of the house, arguing it formed part of securities and guarantees given in 2006 in relation to the O'Donnell parents' debts.

The Supreme Court agreed with a July 2013 High Court decision upholding the bank's claim it was entitled to possession of the house on foot of those securities.

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