Court hears of 'incredible' claims from Quinn's wife

Thu, Dec 15, 2011, 00:00

The wife of bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn is making "incredible" claims she does not have to repay a €3 million bank loan because she is a homemaker unduly influenced by her husband.

Mrs Quinn told the Commercial Court today she regularly signed documents he put in front of her without reading them.

Mrs Patricia Quinn's claim she is not liable on grounds of undue influence of her husband by virtue of their marital status was "an incredible proposition", Paul Gallagher SC, for Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (formerly Anglo) said.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said, in law, there had been no presumption of undue influence between a husband and wife since 1750.

Such a presumption was "news to me" and would be "very good news" for those with spendthrift spouses who have to pay their bills.

It would be "extraordinary" if every wife in the country was presumed to be under the undue influence of her husband, Mr Justice Kelly said.

Bill Shipsey SC, for Mrs Quinn said it may sound astonishing but she was a housewife with no business sophistication and a claim of undue influence could be advanced in her case

The judge, quoting Mr Bumble from Charles Dickens' novel Oliver Twist, said, if that is the law, then "the law is an ass".

IBRC rejects Mrs Quinn's claims and has also argued, while she disputed the bank's description of her as a "business lady", she had been a director of 63 Quinn group companies in the Republic, 28 Quinn companies in the UK and secretary of about ten companies.

Mrs Quinn has also claimed she only realised "very recently" she was a customer of Anglo. While accepting she had a practice over many years of signing documents when asked to do so by her husband or his colleagues in the Quinn group, she said she was never informed about the nature or impact of the documents.

"This is embarrassing to admit but it is the truth," she said in an affidavit.

Mr Justice Kelly will tomorrow give his decision on the bank's application for summary judgment for €3 million against Mrs Quinn, Greaghrahan, Ballyconnell, Co Cavan, over an unpaid loan made to herself and Mr Quinn in late 2006. Summary judgement was previously entered against Mr Quinn.

The bank has claimed it was represented to it the loan was to go towards final decorative costs for the Quinn's home at Ballyconnell but the court heard Mr Quinn had directed the money be paid into an account of Quinn Manufacturing Ltd.

Mrs Quinn argues she has a defence on several grounds to the bank's claim entitling her to a full hearing. She claims she never realised she had signed up for the loan, never received the benefit of if and never received any legal advice before signing the loan documents.

In affidavits, Mrs Quinn took issue with the bank's description of her as a business lady and said she has been a homemaker for the past 36 years, looking after her husband and children since she married at the age of 21.

She never worked with the Quinn group of companies and was never involved in any business or financial dealings "beyond deciding upon the weekly groceries and providing for the household expenses".

She only became aware of the loan facility and demand for repayment after this case was taken, she said. When bank documents came to her home, she would give them to her husband or send them to the Quinn Group headquarters.

It was now clear to her, contrary to what was stated on the loan facility letter, the funds advanced by the bank, while stated to be personal borrowings, were for commercial purposes, she added.

Mr Gallagher argued nothing said by Mrs Quinn amounted to a defence to summary judgment.