Bank asks court to prevent O’Donnell defence on Gorse Hill

Bankruptcy official seeks an injunction on retired solicitor as claims are without merit

Brian O’Donnell  with his son Blake. The adult O’Donnell children lost their claim that they owned Gorse Hill. Photograph: Courts Collins

Brian O’Donnell with his son Blake. The adult O’Donnell children lost their claim that they owned Gorse Hill. Photograph: Courts Collins

 

A High Court judge has been asked to prevent retired solicitor Brian O’Donnell contesting a bank’s bid to prevent him trespassing on his former family home at Gorse Hill in Killiney, south Dublin.

Chris Lehane, the official administering the bankruptcy of Mr O’Donnell and his wife Mary Patricia, wants an injunction restraining Mr O’Donnell advancing further defences to Bank of Ireland’s case.

The bank wants to sell Gorse Hill, valued at more than €5 million, as part of efforts to execute a €70 million judgment granted against the O’Donnells.

That judgment was obtained under a March 2011 settlement agreement, which also provided, if the settlement broke down, as it later did, that the O’Donnells would yield vacant possession of Gorse Hill.

On Friday, Edward Farrelly BL, for Mr Lehane, said any defence to the bank’s case must be authorised by his client as trustee of the O’Donnells’ estate.

Mr Lehane considered the defences being advanced by Mr O’Donnell were without merit and would not authorise their litigation, counsel said.

The O’Donnells’ defence is really about claiming an interest in Gorse Hill, Mr Lehane said, which gives a right to possession when the courts had already decided the O’Donnells had no such interest.

Further vexed

Stephen Dowling

Mr O’Donnell, representing himself, urged Ms Justice Caroline Costello to refuse the injunction. The judge said she will give her ruling on a later date.

Mr O’Donnell claims the €70 million judgment should be set aside on various grounds, including alleged fraud. A second claim is that he and his wife have a right of residence in Gorse Hill. A third claim is that Mary Patricia O’Donnell has a claim to the property under the Family Home Protection Act.

Mr O’Donnell said a right of residence is a “personal, inalienable” right and that he and his wife had a right of residence in Gorse Hill granted to them by a company, Vico.

That right could only be terminated by the company at two years’ notice. No such termination had issued.

In other arguments, Mr O’Donnell said that if the couple’s bankruptcy is annulled, any decisions by Mr Lehane about their estate are irrelevant.

He said Mr Lehane was prioritising the bank’s claims, which was pursuing his family “almost to the ends of the earth”, over other creditors.

During his submissions, the judge said Mr O’Donnell should not be using the court to “grandstand” against the bank.

Mr O’Donnell said he gets “little chance” to make his case and had only spoken in court on a “limited number of occasions”.

Yield possession

Supreme Court

Their parents later moved into the property, but left after further proceedings.