Quinns to challenge IBRC Act

Family members of Sean Quinn will challenge the constitutionality of the new IBRC Act if the courts are found to have no power to lift the

Family members of Sean Quinn will challenge the constitutionality of the new IBRC Act if the courts are found to have no power to lift the

Wed, Feb 13, 2013, 00:00

The family of bankrupt businessman Seán Quinn will challenge the constitutionality of the new IBRC Act if the courts are found to have no power to lift the "absolute" stay in the Act halting the family's action against the bank, their lawyers made clear today.

Martin Hayden SC, for the Quinns, said his side will bring "a full challenge" to the Act if it prevents the stay being lifted and suggested the Attorney General should be put on notice of the possible challenge.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly will hear arguments on March 7th next before deciding whether the Act, which last week liquidated Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (formerly Anglo), permits the courts to lift the "immediate stay" on "all" existing proceedings against IBRC.

That stay is set out in Section 6 of the Act and the judge previously noted the Act also disapplies provisions which normally allow the courts to lift such stays.

The many existing proceedings against IBRC include the action by Patricia Quinn and her children alleging they are not liable for €2.34 billion loans by Anglo to Quinn companies on grounds they were made for the unlawful purpose of propping up the bank's plummeting share price.

There is no stay on existing - or new - proceedings "by" IBRC and issues were mentioned today arising from its 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 hearings of the IBRC action and the family's action have been parked pending criminal proceedings against former Anglo chairman Seán FitzPatrick and two former bank executives - Pat Whelan and Willie McAteer.

However, pre-trial matters have continued, including the cross-examination of the five Quinn children and two of their spouses - Niall McPartland and Stephen Kelly - about whether they have fully disclosed details of their assets and involvement with IPG companies.

That cross-examination has concluded and the judge today fixed dates for the exchange of legal submissions between the sides and also fixed March 19th to hear oral submissions as to whether the bank is entitled to fuller disclosure.

He also agreed to vary freezing orders on the Quinns' accounts to allow them pay €6,285 fees for the transcripts of the five-day cross-examination, plus another €15,000 for stenography fees related to earlier matters.

Mr Hayden asked that the oral hearing be deferred to later so as to allow his side adequate time to prepare submissions for the March 7th hearing concerning the stay issue. The March 7th hearing was "not a matter of small import" and "goes to the heart of the constitutionality of the Act", he said.

The court will be asked to construe the Act and he would be making the case that, for the Act to be constitutional, it must allow the court to lift the stay on the Quinns' action, counsel said.

The judge said that if an issue arose from the March 7th hearing regarding the validity of the Act, the Attorney General would have to be put on notice. The March 7th hearing would not be deciding the issue of constitutionality, he stressed.

The judge also said he believed the Quinns' lawyers would have adequate time to prepare submissions both for the March 7th and March 19th hearings and he refused to defer the March 19th date.

If the stay on the family's action is lifted on March 7th, the Quinns 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.