A HIGH Court judge - dealing with an application in the Sean Quinn bankruptcy case - has issued a warning today on the risks associated with contempt.
Mr Justice Peter Charleton told Sean Quinn’s daughter Brenda Quinn, and her brothers-in-law Niall McPartland and Stephen Kelly, that if anyone was tempted to destroy documents it would be contempt of court.
After hearing that computer memory sticks had been stolen from Kelly’s car the judge said contempt could arise if documents thrown to the bottom of the sea should later be recovered from a lobster pot.
He said the same could apply in relation to any other ‘‘imaginative’’ scheme to dispose of documents.
Judge Charleton allowed law firm Eversheds, who have represented the Quinns in proceedings involving former Anglo Irish Bank, to withdraw from representing them.
It means they will no longer have legal representation, but the judge was yesterday told by Brenda that the family was determined, if necessary, to legally defend themselves.
The Quinns are seeking to avoid liability for loans of €2.88 billion made to various Quinn companies by the bank, now Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC.)
Mrs Patricia Quinn, Mr Quinn’s wife, and their five adult children have also brought proceedings in the Commercial Court against IBRC, claiming they are not liable for some €2.35 billion of loans made to Quinn companies due to alleged illegal conduct by the bank in advancing them to support its share price.
Judge Charleton told Ms Quinn, McPartland and Kelly that it was “pretty close to inconceivable” that this case could be mounted without some legal advice.
Asked by the judge what they planned to do next now that they had no legal team, Niall McPartland said they were looking for a bit more time to consider their options. For financial reasons they were not able to fund the litigation going forward and did not object to Eversheds comong off record.
Mr McPartland said they had been compelled by the court to make disclosure of documents, but they were having difficulty with how they were going to pay for these disclosure obligations.
Counsel for a Receiver, who has been appointed over Quinn family assets, told the court the Quinns were claiming that certain documents had been stolen and they were writing to them requesting details of the theft and if there was an electronic backup.
Stephen Kelly told the judge his car had been broken into and a memory stick had been stolen. He said there had been a full garda report into it.
Brian Murray, S.C., counsel for IBRC said they were concerned that the family was in breach of an order directing them to disclose documents detailing their assets. He said IBRC still had no information about the whereabouts of an estimated $32 million dollars related to properties in the family’s international property group.
He said the bank wanted the Quinns to provide that information before it would agree to any variation of freezing orders on the Quinn’s accounts to allow €40,000 be paid to overseas lawyers who had carried out some work for them.
The judge put that matter back until September 24 which allows the Quinns time to consider their position.
Eversheds is to apply for permission to represent Sean Quinn junior in his Supreme Court appeal next month against a finding by Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne that he had been in contempt of court by failing to comply with a series of court orders.
Judge Dunne held that Sean Jnr, currently in Mountjoy Prison, had failed to adequately comply with a series of orders aimed at unwinding a scheme to strip assets valued at up to €500 million from the family’s international property group.