Wednesday 24 January 2018

Solicitor Brian O’Donnell fails in latest bid to be declared bankrupt in UK

Brian and Mary Pat O'Donnell at the High Court in London
Brian and Mary Pat O'Donnell at the High Court in London

Shane Hickey in London

SOLICITOR Brian O’Donnell has failed in his latest attempt to be declared bankrupt in the United Kingdom.

The High Court in London today dismissed a bid by the former property investor and his wife Mary Pat to reverse a decision to deny them bankruptcy in Britain.

The couple had presented a number of new documents to the court under what they said were exceptional circumstances in the hope of turning around the previous decision.

However, Judge Guy Newey dismissed the application saying the new evidence did not affect his previous judgement.

Their bid to be declared bankrupt in the UK - where they would face one year in financial purgatory compared to 12 in Ireland - was challenged by the Bank of Ireland in a two week court case last year.

The couple argued that their centre of main interest - where they do their business - is in the UK and they had a right to be declared bankrupt there.

They said that the majority of their business had been conducted in Britain since 2007 and they had moved there full-time at the end of 2011.

However, in his judgement released before Christmas, Judge Newey rejected their claim saying Mr O’Donnell had not been “a frank, or even a wholly truthful” witness and that their transfer from Ireland to Britain could not have been “sufficiently ascertainable by third parties”.

In an attempt to reverse the decision this week, Mr O’Donnell - representing himself and his wife without a legal team - presented a series of documents which he said should change the view of the court.

He asked the judge to reverse the ruling because of the “exceptional circumstances” of the new evidence and blamed his legal team for having not presented the documents previously.

The letters to creditors such as Anglo Irish Bank and Ulster Bank showed that they knew the couple were resident in London last February, according to Mr O’Donnell.

However, Judge Newey said that several of the documents were unhelpful and did not justify reopening the case.

The judge said he could not see how Mr O’Donnell could escape personal responsibility for not supplying them in the original case.

He said he did not think the documents would have changed the situation if they were before him at the original trial and that the new evidence did not affect his judgement.

The O’Donnells were refused leave to appeal, with the judge saying there was no real prospect of success.

It is now open to the O’Donnells to apply to the Court of Appeal for the right to appeal the case.

Their latest bid to have bankruptcy declared in the UK was again contested by Bank of Ireland, which is pursuing the couple for some €75m. 

Online Editors

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