Cantillon: Nama’s days in court are numbered

One sign the agency’s work may be nearly done is the rate at which litigation has slowed

Nama's lawsuit against Dunnes Stores over plans to extend The Square shopping centre in Tallaght in Dublin is one of a number of cases mentioned in the State agency's latest management report and accounts.

The agency, set up to salvage the banks’ balance sheets after the property collapse, now expects to return a €2.3 billion surplus to taxpayers after earning a net profit last year of €1.8 billion.

The figures prompted chairman Frank Daly to remark that the organisation had come a long way since the then government established it in 2009 as the Republic struggled to deal with the fallout from the financial system's meltdown.

One of the signs that its work may be nearly done is the rate at which litigation has slowed: it began just four cases in the final quarter of last year. The most high profile is the one against Dunnes. Nama is financing The Square’s extension but the retailer claims the proposal will damage its interest as anchor tenant.

The three others are for judgments against individuals whose businesses Nama has already placed in receivership. Of those, actions for judgment against a Paul Collins and Conor Slattery for €45 million are linked, as both are named as directors of Coolfadda Developers, a company based in Bandon Co Cork.

Nama appointed Ken Fennell, now of Deloitte, as receiver to this company in 2012 on foot of various securities once held by AIB over assets in Co Cork and Co Kerry.

The third is for €27 million against William Kilmurray. The agency appointed Liam Dowdall of Smith & Williamson Freaney to assets held by a Northwood (Residential) Ltd, Fenian Street, Dublin, of which he was director, in late 2012.

Given the number of high-profile property players with which Nama has clashed since it was founded, the three judgments look routine. Dunnes aside, it seems unlikely that the agency will be spending much more time in court.