Court to hear O'Donnell case next month
A DISPUTE about the ownership and value of art, antiques, furniture and other contents of luxury homes in Dublin and London linked to solicitor Brian O’Donnell and his family will come before the Commercial Court next month.
Bank of Ireland, as part of its efforts to enforce a €75 million judgment obtained against Mr O’Donnell and his wife over unpaid loans advanced mainly for property investments, will apply next month for continuing orders restraining dissipation of the contents of the O’Donnell family home at Gorse Hill, Killiney, Co Dublin.
The O’Donnells’ four children have separately brought an appeal to the Supreme Court disputing the High Court’s entitlement to grant an interim order earlier this month allowing solicitors for the bank enter the Gorse Hill property to take an inventory of contents.
The children – Blake, Bruce, Blaise and Alexandra – claim they are the owners of the Gorse Hill property under a trust but the bank has disputed that claim and has indicated it will seek to take possession of the property.
Mr O’Donnell has claimed Vico Barton Ltd owns the property at Barton Street, London, where he and his wife are now living. The couple have applied for bankruptcy in the UK. The bank disputes their claims that their centre of main interests is in London.
The children claim the High Court was not entitled to grant the bank, at an in-camera hearing, an interim order permitting it enter the Gorse Hill property and have appealed to the Supreme Court.
A date for the hearing of the appeal by Blaise O’Donnell – which the sides agree will also determine the appeals of her siblings – has yet to be fixed but lawyers for both sides indicated yesterday to the Chief Justice, Ms Justice Susan Denham, it is ready to proceed subject to a number of minor “housekeeping” matters.
The bank sought the interim order arising from its concerns over some of the evidence given by Mr O’Donnell to the Commercial Court while he was being cross-examined by the bank about his assets and income as part of its efforts to enforce its judgment obtained last November.
The bank said values of between €5 million and €7.5 million for art and antiques were previously provided to it in statements of assets of Mr O’Donnell and his wife for the years 2005 and 2006 and it was concerned when Mr O’Donnell told the court such values were a mistake and “ludicrous”.
Mr O’Donnell has in an affidavit since supplied to the bank stated the total value of the contents of the Gorse Hill and Barton Street properties are about €150,000.
When the dispute was mentioned yesterday to Mr Justice Peter Kelly he fixed June 7th for the hearing of the bank’s application to continue orders restraining dissipation of the contents. He will also on that date hear the bank’s application to fast-track to the Commercial Court its action aimed at securing possession of those contents.
Lawyers for the couple and the children said they would not challenge the jurisdiction of the courts here to deal with the case but indicated there would be opposition to the application for admission of the case to the Commercial Court on grounds of delay. The judge adjourned the matter to June 7th and noted undertakings not to dissipate the contents are to continue until then. Orders against three companies restraining asset dissipation, including a company of which four of the family are directors, also apply until then.