Ruling due next week on centre of McFeely interests
A HIGH Court judge will rule next week whether Ireland is the centre of developer Thomas McFeely’s business interests, a ruling necessary to a bid by a woman to have him declared bankrupt over failure of one of his companies to pay her €100,000.
Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne said she had a number of concerns about information given by Mr McFeely (64) during his earlier application for self-bankruptcy in the UK, where the bankruptcy regime is more lenient than here.
James Salafia SC, for Mr McFeely, urged the court to rule his client’s centre of main interest is the UK on grounds he has been carrying out developments there for the last five years.
Mr McFeely had lived there most of the time since the bottom fell out of the Irish construction industry, counsel said. Mr Salafia said it was wrong to suggest Mr McFeely was, as a British passport-holder, trying to “hide behind the skirts of the queen of England”.
There was no doubt Mr McFeely had been conducting most of his business in the UK since 2008. If declared bankrupt here, Mr McFeely would be 76 by the time he could get back into business, compared to one year in the UK, counsel said.
A London court previously rescinded its decision to declare Mr McFeely bankrupt and has said the Irish courts may decide where his centre of main interest is.
Ms Justice Dunne was urged by Theresa McGuinness to find Ireland is the centre of his business interests. She bought a house from one of Mr McFeely’s companies, Coalport, in 2006 and was awarded €100,000 in damages at the High Court in 2009 after the property was found to have serious structural faults.
Ms McGuinness, who says she remains unpaid, argued Mr McFeely has lived and traded here for the last 20 years, conducting his affairs from an office in Holles Street, Dublin, and having his family home in Ailesbury Road, Ballsbridge.
Mr McFeely claimed his address was an apartment in the Athena Court development at Stratford, London, but this was not a permanent address because he did not hold a lease on that property, she said. He only used that address since the bankruptcy proceedings were initiated, she argued.
He was still named as a director of Coalport in the Companies Registration Office, she also said.
Mr McFeely, Ms McGuinness also said, has several rental properties in the Republic yielding an income of more than €4,000 a month, along with significant debts here including more than €200 million owed to the National Asset Management Agency.
Mr Salafia, for Mr McFeely, said there may be deficiencies in his client’s statement to court, but this did not alter the fact he travelled to work in London and returned at weekends to be with his family.