Saturday 16 November 2019

Vulture fund must pay Ryan's legal bill in house battle

Tanager could face costs of up to €100,000

Battle: Pamela Flood and Ronan Ryan are fighting to hold on to their family home. Photo: DOUGLAS O’CONNOR
Battle: Pamela Flood and Ronan Ryan are fighting to hold on to their family home. Photo: DOUGLAS O’CONNOR
The home of Pamela Flood and Ronan Ryan in Clontarf
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

High-profile restaurateur Ronan Ryan, husband of television presenter and former Miss Ireland Pamela Flood, has secured a further victory over a vulture fund in his battle to hold on to their family home.

A High Court ruling means Tanager DAC must pay all of the legal costs arising from recent Circuit and High Court proceedings connected to its efforts to repossess their Dublin home. The costs have yet to be quantified but could reach €100,000 following a series of hearings during the court's summer vacation period.

Earlier this month, Mr Justice Garrett Simons allowed an appeal by Mr Ryan against a Circuit Court order permitting Tanager to repossess the house at Mount Prospect Avenue in Clontarf over a mortgage debt of €1.2m.

Tanager wanted to move forward with the repossession despite the fact Mr Ryan had obtained a protective certificate. This is a document which offers a debtor and their assets protection from legal proceedings by creditors while they are applying for a personal insolvency arrangement.

Mr Ryan did not tell a judge a possession order was already in place when he obtained the certificate, something he later apologised for. While Mr Justice Simons said this was unsatisfactory, he found the omission did not constitute a material non-disclosure and, had it been disclosed, it would not have affected the application anyway.

Usually when a party loses a case, it must cover its own costs and those of the winning side. However, Tanager's counsel Rudi Neuman argued there should be no costs order, which would mean each side would have to pick up their own legal bill. He claimed the appeal represented a "test case" and that special costs rules should be applied. He also argued it would be unjust to make a costs order in favour of Mr Ryan when he owed a substantial sum in mortgage arrears to Tanager, and that the court should have cognisance of the fact he breached his duty of disclosure.

In response, Mr Ryan's counsel Keith Farry submitted that the ordinary rules on costs should apply.

In a written ruling Mr Justice Simons rejected the points raised by Tanager.

He also criticised the fund's refusal to agree to a stay on the repossession order, which meant an application for a stay had to be brought to the High Court in August, a month when generally only urgent matters are heard.

"Had Tanager taken a more reasonable approach to the request for a stay, then the necessity for such an urgent court application could have been avoided," the judge said.

Mr Ryan's solicitor Eugene Carley welcomed the costs ruling, saying his client had been fully vindicated.

"Tanager's behaviour left a lot be desired and they were unsuccessful in their attempt to undermine Irish insolvency legislation and take possession of a family home," he said.

Mr Ryan is now set to seek court approval for a personal insolvency arrangement under which €634,000 of his overall debts of €1.6m would be written off and the couple would keep their home.

He has pledged to repay the remaining debt of close to €1m over the next 22 years if the arrangement is approved.

Irish Independent

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