Investors sue Irish Life over loss on property investment
Failure to plan for loan expiry led to forced sale in London, plaintiffs claim
The proceedings are against Irish Life Assurance plc and Irish Life Investment Managers Ltd (ILIM) and centre on claims the Austin Friars fund was sold at the wrong time. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien
More than 200 Irish investors are suing Irish Life over alleged losses of up to €15 million arising from the sale of a London property investment for almost 50 per cent less than its €60 million purchase price.
Two of the 214 actions – those by Eoin and Anne Doohan, of Belfry Gardens, Dundalk, Co Louth, and by Grand Liqueur Ltd – are expected to proceed as test cases arising out of the July 2013 sale of the Austin Friars building in central London.
Mr Doohan said he and his wife lost about 70 per cent of the €100,000 they invested in the Austin Friars Geared Property Fund for Pension and Life Investors in 2007 and it was also of “significant importance” to him that he had advised 63 others to invest their savings or pensions in the fund.
The proceedings are against Irish Life Assurance plc and Irish Life Investment Managers Ltd (ILIM) and centre on claims the Austin Friars fund was sold at the wrong time.
In an affidavit, Mr Doohan said he is an experienced investor and accepted the defendants cannot be responsible for the downturn in the global economy. While he accepted other investments through the same exceptionally difficult period had done worse, he believed the plaintiffs were caused significant loss because of the manner in which the Austin Friars fund was disposed of.
When the Doohan case came before Mr Justice Peter Kelly yesterday, he was told by Edward Farrelly, for the couple, that their loss was less than the €1 million threshold required for cases to be fast-tracked in the Commercial Court but, because there were 213 others making similar claims about this fund, it was considered they should be dealt with by the Commercial Court.
The judge said the matter may be able to proceed via one or two test actions to decide the issue of liability after which any loss could be addressed.