Thursday 19 April 2018

Wife would not have signed loan documents if she knew home was at risk

Tim Healy

A WOMAN told the High Court today she would not have signed documents which put her family home at risk had they been explained to her.

Mother of three, Patricia Raftery, said she signed documents, including one allegedly surrendering her right to the house under the Family Home Protection Act, because her husband Patrick had asked her to do it and she just "went along with it".

However, she said she did not have her own solicitor when she was doing so, nor was the fact that her home would be at risk explained to her.

Mrs Raftery was giving evidence in an ongoing action by the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) against the couple for possession of their family home at Cloonbrackna Court, Roscommon town.

The house was built in 1972 by her husband, a retired building contractor.

It arises out of an €87,600 loan given to the Raftery's in November 1992 by Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS), later to be amalgamated with the nationalised Anglo Irish Bank which in turn was renamed IBRC.

IRBC says they now owe €246,000, mainly comprising interest on the €87,600 bridging loan which was given to them to buy an investment property, a pub, post office and coffee shop in Charlestown, Co Mayo.

It says when the couple agreed to the loan, they put up the family home as security.

The Rafterys say IBRC is not entitled to an order for possession and have counterclaimed that the bank has acted in breach of its fiduciary duty towards them.

They also say the bank is not entitled to the house under Family Home Protection (FHP) Act, 1976

The bank denies this and says the FHP Act is not relevant to the proceedings.

When they failed to re-pay the loan in 1996, the bank took possession of the Charlestown property and sold it for just over €92,000, the court heard.

The original loan remained outstanding and interest continued to accrue.

Mr Raftery claims that when the bank took over the Charlestown property, it sold it for less than its market value. It had been bought in 1991 for just over €109,000, he says.

Mrs Raftery says the bank was negligent and acted in breach of contract and also disposed of the property with undue haste.

She also says the loan and subsequent mortgage agreement was entered into in breach of the FHP Act.

The court heard lawyers for the Rafterys were questioning the validity of a document in which Mrs Raftery allegedly signed away her rights under the FHP because they said there had been a change to a date on it.

Mr Justice John Hedigan, who adjourned the matter until today, suggested to the Rafterys lawyers to think about the matter overnight because IBRC was clearly saying it was not relying on the FHP Act and it was therefore not an issue for the court to decide.

The judge also urged the parties, "even at this late stage", to see if some arrangement might be reached between them over this case.

Earlier, Mrs Raftery told her counsel Colm Smyth SC that when documents were presented to her in relation to the loan and purchase of the investment property, she was not aware of what she was getting into.

"My husband gave them (documents) to me and I went along with it."

It was not explained to her, either by the family solicitor or anyone from the bank, that she might lose the family home.

Asked what her view would be if she had known the family home was at risk, she said: "I would definitely not have signed it, I had three small children and I would not put their lives at risk."

Under cross-examination by Ronan Murphy SC, for IRBC, she denied the documents would have been explained to her by the family solicitor. Asked what did she think she was signing in relation to the letter of (loan) offer she said: "I have no idea, I just went along with my husband."

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