Liquidators say Quinn case can proceed
The family of bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn have applied to have the stay on their action against IBRC lifted. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
The special liquidators of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation have told the Commercial Court they will not object to the lifting of the stay in the new IBRC Act which has halted the action against the bank by the family of bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn.
Solicitors for the bank say they consider the stay "should not be construed as permanent".
However, a hearing will still proceed next month to decide whether the courts have jurisdiction to lift the stay in the Act, which has halted all existing proceedings against the bank.
Mr Justice Peter Kelly, who previously said there is an issue whether the Act permits the courts to lift the stay, said that issue will have to be decided as it had ramifications not just for the Quinn action but for other cases.
The IBRC Act providing for the liquidation of IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, was enacted earlier this month. Section 6.2.a of the Act provides for an immediate stay on all "existing" proceedings against IBRC and Mr Justice Kelly previously noted the Act also disapplies provisions which normally allow the courts lift such stays.
The Quinns had applied to have the stay on their action lifted and the judge has fixed for hearing on March 7th the issue whether the courts can lift it.
Lawyers for the Quinns told the judge last week they would challenge the constitutionality of the IBRC Act if the courts are found to have no power to lift the stay.
Today, Martin Hayden SC, for the family, said he wanted to bring to the court's attention a letter received earlier this week from McCann Fitzgerald, solicitors for IBRC.
In that letter, the solicitors referred to the Quinns application to lift the stay on the family's case.
The letter stated IBRC accepts the Quinns have an entitlement to pursue their case and to have it decided by the court. On that basis, IBRC did not object to the Quinns application to have the stay lifted and would not be filing affidavit evidence in response to that application, the letter stated.
The solicitors also said IBRC would submit at the March 7th hearing that the court has inherent jurisdiction to lift the stay in relation to existing proceedings [against IBRC] and that Section 6.2.a "must be construed on the basis that the stay was not intended to be permanent".
In their action, Mrs Patricia Quinn and her five children deny liability for some €2.34 billion loans made to Quinn companies by Anglo Irish Bank on grounds those loans were made for the unlawful purpose of propping up the bank's plummeting share price.
The full hearing of the case has been deferred pending the criminal trials of former Anglo Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick and two former senior executives of the bank, Pat Whelan and Willie McAteer. However, pre-trial applications are continuing.
If the stay on the family's action is lifted on March 7th, they will later indicate if they intend to apply to join the Department of Finance and Central Bank - as regulator of the banks - as co-defendants with IBRC.
The IBRC Act provides for no stay on existing - or new - proceedings "by" IBRC and pre-trial issues have continued in IBRC's own action alleging various Quinn family members and others conspired to put assets in the Quinn's international property group (IPG) beyond the bank's reach.
The full hearing of the IBRC action has also been "parked" pending the criminal proceedings against the three former Anglo executives.