Businessman’s Anglo US court bid rejected as ‘forum shopping’

Judge says Micheál Breslin cannot sue in US because he is unhappy with Irish court rules

David Drumm worked for Micheál Breslin after the former Anglo CEO left Ireland. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

David Drumm worked for Micheál Breslin after the former Anglo CEO left Ireland. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

A US judge has rejected an Irish-American businessman’s bid to have his claim of fraud against the former Anglo Irish Bank over a €10 million debt heard in a Delaware court.

Micheál Breslin, who is originally from Co Meath but who made his fortune in the scaffolding business in New York, sought to take a legal action in the US courts against Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, the State-owned entity in liquidation that includes the remnants of the defunct bank.

He asked the Delaware bankruptcy court three months ago to hear his claim that Anglo fraudulently induced a €10 million personal guarantee from him in 2008 on a loan relating to a hotel in London.

Mr Breslin – who gave work to former Anglo Irish chief executive David Drumm after he left Ireland in 2009 – turned to the US courts, where Anglo’s former US subsidiary is being liquidated, in a bid to gain access to bank documents through discovery that he claimed were denied to him in Irish legal actions.

Disputes

On Tuesday, judge Christopher Sontchi denied Mr Breslin’s motion to have the case heard in Delaware.

“I believe that plain and simply this is a case of forum shopping by a litigant who is not happy with the procedures and rules of the courts in Ireland when he chose to do business in Ireland,” said the judge.

Judge Sontchi noted that Mr Breslin’s claim was the subject of legal actions in Ireland in 2012 and 2017.

“When you do business, especially a sophisticated, moderately successful businessman, does business in a foreign jurisdiction, you are putting yourself susceptible to the laws of that foreign jurisdiction to resolve the disputes that may arise in connection with that business,” he said.

“The fact that you don’t like the results or the fact that you don’t like the procedures is not a reason to be able to go to a different jurisdiction to seek relief.”

The judge rejected an argument for Mr Breslin that a significant backlog in the Irish courts due to the Government’s failure to appoint judges in a timely matter was a reason for him to take his case in the US.

Hardship

Similar delays in litigation were no different in the US, he said. “I don’t think that the fact that litigation in Ireland may take time rises to the level of injustice or hardship,” he added.

The Meath man’s US lawyer Alec Ostrow declined to comment whether his client would appeal.

Since the financial crash, the New York-based Mr Breslin has invested in a number of Irish businesses, including the Capital Bars pub and restaurant chain in Dublin.