Friday 15 November 2019

Supermarket operator wants to sue auctioneer over alleged excessive valuation of sites

The case was in the High Court.
The case was in the High Court.

Tim Healy

A SUPERMARKET operator wants to sue an auctioneers over an alleged excessive valuation in 2007 of sites near his business in Casetleblayney, Co Monaghan.

Jim McConnon, against whom a bank previously obtained a €32m judgment over unpaid loans, wants to bring the action against CBRE, the High Court heard.

Mr McConnon claims an independent valuation put the value of the sites in 2007 at €3m while CBRE allegedly put it at ten times that, €30m.

Mr McConnon borrowed some €32m from Zurich Bank, now called Dunbar Assets Ireland, to develop a shopping centre near his supermarket in Castleblayney. However he was unable to repay the monies and the bank obtained judgment against him.

The bank also successfully petitioned to have Mr McConnon, Main Street, Castleblayney, adjudicated bankrupt in July of last year.

Today, Ms Justice Caroline Costello was informed  Mr McConnon wants to sue CBRE arising out of the alleged 2007 valuations.

The court heard he wants permission to bring the action because he is a bankrupt. The judge adjourned the application.

Vincent P Martin BL, for Mr McConnon, said his client obtained market valuations the two sites of the proposed development from CBRE in February and April 2007.

Mr McConnon's case is that CBRE's valuation of the sites was "nowhere near" the real market value, counsel said.

He claims CBRE were negligent in relation to the alleged valuations. Mr McConnon is also alleging personal injury and defamation against CBRE.

Counsel said because he is an undischarged bankrupt Mr McConnon needs permission from the Official Assignee, who is the official in charge of his bankruptcy, to proceed with his civil action.

However the office of the official assignee wrote to Mr McConnon informing him that under the Bankruptcy Act, he has no right,  as a bankrupt, to embark on or continue such an action.

The official assignee, Chris Lehane, told the court his office required some sort of "a mark" or "surety" from Mr McConnon before allowing the case to proceed.

If the claim was allowed, it would be brought through the official assignee and if Mr McConnon lost there could be cost implications for the taxpayer. 

Despite his requests, Mr Lehane said he had received "no clarity" concerning the issue of a surety from Mr McConnon.

Mr Martin said it is also their case that Mr McConnon has a constitutional right to proceed with his action even if a mark or surety cannot be put forward.

The judge adjourned the matter until after Easter.

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