Cullen says he has ‘no doubt’ he will repay €11.5m debt to bank
Judge agrees to fast-track case to Commercial Court
Bill Cullen leaving the Four Courts in Dublin yesterday. Photograph: Collins/Courts
Businessman Bill Cullen has told the Commercial Court there is “no doubt” his €11.5 million debt to Ulster Bank will be cleared and he became “so irritated” over the approach of receivers in selling assets of his companies he decided to take legal proceedings.
Mr Cullen, representing himself, said receivers appointed by the bank have reached agreements for sale of some five properties for €8.3 million. There was another eight to be sold and it was “clear” the bank would get its money, he said.
His “real target” in the case he had brought was the bank and its receivers and he “might not have got the best advice” in joining more than 20 other parties as defendants, including companies, individual solicitors and estate agents acting in the intended sales, he told Mr Justice Peter Kelly. He needed time to get the legal documents together for his case and perhaps seek legal representation, he added. He was concerned the sales were depriving him of money to which he was entitled and could use for his business.
Mr Cullen, accompanied by his partner Jackie Lavin, were in court to respond to an application on behalf of Ulster Bank Ireland Ltd, its receivers and its solicitors, Arthur Cox, for his case to be fast-tracked in the Commercial Court.
Mr Cullen wants declarations he has an interest in a number of lands and properties over which receivers were appointed by Ulster Bank in 2012 and 2013, including properties in Dublin, Wexford, Clare, Kerry, Laois and Wicklow. He wants declarations that the appointment of receivers in that regard are null and void and has also alleged breaches of Central Bank and consumer protection codes.
Mr Justice Kelly said he was satisfied the case was urgent and he would transfer it to the Commercial Court. He made directions for exchange of legal documents and returned the matter to October.
Earlier, moving the fast-track application, Bernard Dunleavy, for the bank, the receivers, Arthur Cox and individual partners and solicitors of that firm also listed as defendants, said it was urgent. He said was delaying intended sales of properties and his side were also very concerned about the “bald” and “wide-ranging” allegations of professional misconduct made against professionals. Those claims were taken very seriously and an affidavit had been sworn rejecting them.
Mr Cullen had registered several lis pendens notices (notification of pending litigation) over a range of properties in which he was claiming to have a beneficial interest, the court heard. The properties include assets of the Glencullen Group of companies. Mr Cullen was claiming a beneficial interest in 13 parcels of lands over which joint receivers had been appointed and has registered lis pendens over those, Mr Dunleavy said.
Some properties were in the process of being sold and the lis pendens were interfering with that. One property was due to have been sold on June 5th but a lis pendens was registered just before that, he added.
When Mr Dunleavy said the joint receivers were appointed over companies controlled by Mr Cullen arising from debts of some €13 million, Mr Cullen said that debt had been reduced to about €11.5 million.
After Mr Cullen indicated his real difficulty was with the bank and receivers, Mr Dunleavy indicated that if the case was withdrawn against the Arthur Cox firm, partners and solicitors, there may be no costs implications for Mr Cullen arising from his having included those parties as defendants.