Developer loses appeal over transfer of Shankill home to wife
Peter McCann was ruled to have intended to defraud solicitor out of €411,000 with move
Mr Justice Donald Binchy was satisfied from the evidence there was “express intent” by the developer and his wife “to defeat any potential claim” by the solicitor. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien
A property developer has lost his appeal against a ruling he transferred his home in Shankill, Co Dublin into his wife’s name with the intention of defrauding a solicitor out of €411,000.
Adrian MacNamara, practising as Murphy MacNamara, solicitors, South Mall, Cork, had sued Peter McCann and Mr McCann’s wife Joan, Kilmurray House, Falls Road, Shankill, Co Dublin, over failure to be paid a legal bill of €411,000.
Mr McNamara claimed his firm provided extensive legal services to companies involved in property development owned by Mr McCann who, he alleged, assured him he would personally indemnify him for the work done for the companies but had not paid the bill.
The companies went into liquidation in 2010 and Mr McNamara later established there were no assets to discharge his fees.
He issued legal proceedings and obtained judgment against Mr McCann.
The solicitor later carried out a search aimed at identifying Mr McCann’s assets and found a deed of conveyance executed in November 2010 in respect of the McCann’s family home in Shankill. The transfer was executed with the express purpose of avoiding the debt due from Mr McCann, he claimed.
In the couple’s defence, Mr McCann denied giving Mr MacNamara a personal indemnity to pay the outstanding fees and also denied he deliberately conveyed the couple’s Shankill home which, it was claimed, had been bought by Mrs McCann in 1993. The couple claimed they discovered in 2010 the deeds had wrongly been put in joint names in 1993 and had deeds of conveyance and rectification drawn up to rectify the initial mistake.
When the case came before the Circuit Court last year, Judge Jacqueline Linnane found the conveyance of the Shankill property executed on November 5th, 2010 transferring it from joint names into the sole name of Mrs McCann was done with the intention to defraud creditors and in particular Mr MacNamara.
The judge granted Mr MacNamara a declaration the transfer was made with the intention of defrauding the solicitor and it declared the conveyance void and set it aside.
The McCanns appealed to the High Court but, in a judgment on Thursday, Mr Justice Donald Binchy dismissed the appeal.
The judge said he was satisfied from the evidence there was “express intent” by the McCanns, when conveying the property into Mrs McCann’s sole name, “to defeat any potential claim by Mr MacNamara”.
Mr MacNamara had proven “fraudulent intent on the part of the defendants, in the execution of the deed of conveyance” which, he held, was done to “defeat, delay or hinder” Mr MacNamara, the judge held.
When executing the deed, the McCanns were aware Mr MacNamara was intending to pursue Mr McCann personally for debts incurred by his companies, the judge said. That was “the motivation behind the decision” to have the property conveyed in Mrs McCann’s name and “no evidence” was provided to support their claim the conveyance of the property in 1993 into their joint names was a mistake.