McFeely bankruptcy case for High Court hearing
THE HIGH Court in Dublin is to hear a bid to force property developer Tom McFeely’s bankruptcy in Ireland two days before his own bid to become bankrupt in the United Kingdom is heard by a court in London.
The bid to bankrupt him in Ireland is being taken by Theresa McGuinness, from Rush, Co Dublin, who successfully appealed to the High Court in London earlier this month to overturn a UK bankruptcy declaration given to Mr McFeely in January.
The timing of the cases is crucial to Mr McFeely, since he could be bankrupted for up to 12 years and barred from acting as a company director if bankrupted in Ireland. In England and Wales, a bankrupt can be discharged and left free to trade again in a year. The High Court in Dublin had planned to hear Ms McGuinness’s bid on July 23rd, but it decided to bring this forward to next Monday after she wrote to the court following the decision in London to accelerate a fresh hearing of his bankruptcy application.
The location for his bankruptcy will be decided by the first court to rule on where his centre of main interests now lies. He claims he has just a skeleton staff working for him in Ireland – despite problems with his controversial Priory Hall apartment complex.
Mr McFeely, a former IRA hunger-striker who was jailed for shooting an RUC officer, told Mrs Justice Sonia Proudman in London he should not be bankrupted in Ireland because he is a British subject who should not face Ireland’s “punitive” bankruptcy laws.
His bankruptcy declaration was overturned by Mrs Justice Proudman after it became clear Mr McFeely’s witness statement, where he declared that he was not involved in other legal proceedings, was shown to be wrong.
Claiming Ms McGuinness’s action against him was “vindictive”, Mr McFeely told the London judge: “I maintain this is a breach of my human rights and that it is objectionable to expose me as a British citizen to the punitive bankruptcy laws of another country.”
The decision to expedite Mr McFeely’s London case came as a surprise, since Mrs Justice Proudman repeatedly voiced objections to such a course of action during the hearing, though it was subsequently logged “as a matter of urgency” for the bankruptcy registrar.
Ms McGuinness then queried the decision, which led the registrar to drop the reference to it needing to be dealt with “as a matter of urgency”, though he decided not to change the July 4th hearing date because there was a space in the diary.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court in Dublin has reserved judgment on Mr McFeely’s appeal against a three-month prison sentence for failing to remedy fire safety defects at Priory Hall.
Last November, he was fined €1m for failing to carry out safety works on the apartments.