Bank granted €18.5m judgement against church trustees

Judge rules Bank of Scotland entitled to funds advanced to Victory Christian Fellowship

The High Court has ruled Bank of Scotland is entitled to a judgment of €18.5 million against the trustees of a non-denominational church- the Victory Christian Fellowship-arising from loans advanced for the construction of a new church. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

The High Court has ruled Bank of Scotland is entitled to a judgment of €18.5 million against the trustees of a non-denominational church- the Victory Christian Fellowship-arising from loans advanced for the construction of a new church. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

Tue, Dec 3, 2013, 17:50

The High Court has ruled Bank of Scotland is entitled to a judgment of €18.5 million against the trustees of a non-denominational church- the Victory Christian Fellowship - arising from loans advanced for the construction of a new church.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan, said the bank is entitled to judgment against the Felllowship’s trustees Brendan Hade, the church’s senior pastor; his wife Shelia Hade, Fountain Head, Rockbrook, Rathfarnham, Dublin; and Gerry Byrne, of Woodstown, Knocklyon, Dublin.

The judge also ruled the bank, and joint receivers it appointed over three of the Fellowship’s Dublin premises, are entitled to permanent injunctions restraining the trustees and others from obstructing or interfering with the receivers taking possession of properties.

The three properties are located at Kilmacud House, Kilmacud Road, Upper Stillorgan; Westland Row; and Firhouse Road, Tallaght. They were put up as security for monies advanced by Bank of Scotland in 2007.

The loans were advanced so the Fellowship could move from its base at Westland Row to a bigger premises at Firhouse, where a new church- the Victory Centre- was constructed. The property at Kilmacud is used as a direct provision centre for asylum seekers in Ireland.

In its action, Bank of Scotland, represented by Rossa Fanning Bl. said it was entitled to judgment, and the bank had valid security over the properties. It was fully entitled to appoint receivers, chartered accountants Paul McCann and Patrick Dillon over the three properties last May.

The bank rejected the trustees claims it had breached an agreement in regards to a strategy to deal with the Fellowship’s debt to the bank. There was no reasonable possibility of the trustees obtaining alternative finance within any reasonable period of time, which was a required element of any agreement between the parties, the bank said.

In defence and counterclaim, the trustees, who accepted the monies are due. claimed they had agreed in late 2012 with Bank of Scotland to resolve the dispute over the unpaid loans. However, they claimed the agreement was breached by the premature appointment of receivers.

They argued that last April, prior to a decision being taken to appoint the receivers, the bank was given information, from the Fellowship’s financial advisor, which advisor was not sanctioned to give.

The information was disclosed to Bank of Scotland before the parties had resolved or concluded their differences and was a decisive reason for the appointment of receivers.

This information included that Revenue had removed the Fellowship’s charitable status and that allegedly fraudulent invoices were generated in relation to the construction of the Victory Centre by a party connected to the trustees.

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