Dunne seeks protocol for his dual Irish-US bankruptcy

Lawyers want protocol showing how unprecedented situation is to be managed

Lawyers for bankrupt developer Seán Dunne have asked a US court to order his bankruptcy trustee to file a promised protocol on how his dual bankruptcies in Ireland and the US will be managed. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Lawyers for bankrupt developer Seán Dunne have asked a US court to order his bankruptcy trustee to file a promised protocol on how his dual bankruptcies in Ireland and the US will be managed. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Wed, May 7, 2014, 01:00

Lawyers for bankrupt developer Seán Dunne have asked a US court to order his bankruptcy trustee to file a promised protocol on how his dual bankruptcies in Ireland and the US will be managed.

Mr Dunne claims in a new court filing that the court officer overseeing his bankruptcy in Ireland, known as the official assignee, does not believe he (the assignee) is bound by a US court order directing that he work in co-operation with the court officer managing Mr Dunne’s bankruptcy in the US, known as the trustee.

Lawyers for the Carlow developer want an “ad-hoc protocol” showing how the court officers intend to manage his estate in an unprecedented situation where he is bankrupt in two countries.


Debts of $942m
Mr Dunne moved to the US in 2010 and filed for bankruptcy in March 2013 in Connecticut, with debts of $942 million (€700 million).

He was declared bankrupt in the Irish courts in July 2013 on an application by his biggest creditor, Ulster Bank, after it secured permission from the US court.

He has told the US court that the absence of a protocol, which was a condition of the US judge permitting his parallel bankruptcies, threatens “an enormous waste of judicial resources” and prejudices him.


Official assignee
According to Mr Dunne, the official assignee in Ireland, Christopher Lehane, has claimed he has the right to proceed “independently” of Mr Dunne’s US bankruptcy proceedings.

He cites a letter from Mr Lehane to Ross Connolly, who was financial controller of Mr Dunne’s group of companies, in which the assignee (Mr Lehane) says the Dunne bankruptcy estate is vested in him.

The developer says Ulster Bank also maintains that his assets fall under the jurisdiction of the Irish courts.

The matter will come before the US bankruptcy judge at a hearing in Connecticut on May 20th.