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Woman who 'lost home in tracker scandal bankruptcy' told court cannot annul ruling

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High Court. Stock Image

High Court. Stock Image

High Court. Stock Image

The High Court has dismissed a woman's application to annul the bankruptcy she claimed she was forced into by being overcharged on her mortgage by Bank of Ireland.

In her judgment, Ms Justice Teresa Pilkington said the court had "considerable sympathy" for the distress Deirdre Dennis had endured over a period of time.

However the annulment application was not a matter in which the court had the jurisdiction to rule in her favour.

The difficulty in this case, the judge said, was that the reasons for seeking to set aside the bankruptcy, including that the bank had wrongly overcharged her on her mortgage repayments, lie outside the bankruptcy process.

Band of Ireland only admitted its error after Ms Dennis's discharge as a bankrupt.

Any redress sought by Ms Dennis against the bank "lies elsewhere", the judge added.

Ms Dennis lost her family home, was left financially crippled and personally devastated after being charged more than twice what was due on her monthly mortgage repayments between June 2012 and December 2017.

In 2015 the bank sought an order from the Circuit Court seeking repossession of her home after Ms Dennis went into arrears.

After obtaining financial advice, she successfully petitioned the High Court to be adjudicated a bankrupt in October 2017, and was discharged 12 months later.

In 2019 Bank of Ireland, after carrying out a review of her account, unreservedly apologised for its failure to provide her with a tracker rate at a time she was entitled to one. It also withdrew its claim in her bankruptcy of amounts totalling €115,000.

The bank accepted she was entitled to compensation, redress and a refund of interest, and also acknowledged its error was a factor in her losing her family home at Seaview Terrace, Killala, Co Mayo.

In a written judgment, Ms Justice Pilkington said Ms Dennis's position was very straightforward. Had Bank of Ireland not made the error, which it belatedly admitted, Ms Dennis claimed she would have never been put in the position she was in, and would not have self-petitioned for bankruptcy.

However the judge, while noting the stress and distress Ms Dennis had endured, said the issues she had with the bank were not directly relevant to the annulment and did not relate directly to the bankruptcy process.

It was not a matter in which the court could exercise its jurisdiction in her favour.

Another difficulty for the court was Ms Dennis had been discharged from bankruptcy and section 135 of the 1988 Bankruptcy Act precludes any review, cancellation or variation of an order of discharge.

The court heard Ms Dennis currently rents a property at Killala Road, Ballina, Co Mayo.

When she sought to be adjudicated a bankrupt she believed she owed Bank of Ireland some €171,000 on foot of loans. Her then home was valued as being worth €73,000.

She also had additional debts of €66,000 owed to Revenue and another bank.

Ms Dennis claimed that had she had all the relevant information from Bank of Ireland in October 2017 she would not have sought to be adjudicated a bankrupt.

Irish Independent