Gayle Killilea Dunne case can continue here, High Court rules

Wife of bankrupt businessman Seán Dunne had sought dismissal of proceedings

The court found Gayle Killilea Dunne had failed to satisfy accepted legal tests in relation to the appropriate forum question. Photograph: Collins Courts

The court found Gayle Killilea Dunne had failed to satisfy accepted legal tests in relation to the appropriate forum question. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

Legal proceedings brought in the Republic over the alleged fraudulent transfer of assets between bankrupt businessman Seán Dunne and his wife Gayle Killilea Dunne can continue to be heard in this jurisdiction, the High Court ruled

On Wednesday, Mr Justice Brian McGovern dismissed the second leg of a challenge brought by Ms Killilea Dunne against Chris Lehane, the official assignee handling Mr Dunne’s bankruptcy, seeking the dismissal of the fraudulent transfer proceedings on grounds that the State was not the appropriate jurisdiction, or “forum non conveniens” for this and was an abuse of process.

Mr Dunne has been declared bankrupt in the Republic and the US.

In June, Mr Justice McGovern ruled, in the first leg of Ms Killilea Dunne’s challenge, that the bringing of the fraudulent transfer proceedings here did not conflict with US law. He also ruled that the Irish proceedings create a legal block which would prevent the trustee overseeing the US bankruptcy from re-litigating the matter in the US courts.

The main fraudulent transfer proceedings now continue here.

Mr Justice McGovern said the High Court had also already held that the determination of the Irish proceedings, under accepted legal doctrines, would bind the US trustee from re-litigating the matter in the US courts.

“Having reached those conclusions, it is difficult to see how the defendant (Killilea Dunne) will be unfairly prejudiced if the matters proceed in this jurisdiction,” he said.

Irish assets

He also said all of the assets claimed by the official assignee are Irish, with the exception of a hotel in South Africa, which is held through an Irish firm. None of the asset loan transactions, share transfers or assignment which are at the centre of this case, have any connection with the US and this has been recognised by the US courts, he said.

He concluded there was no question the defendant will have to litigate or defend the fraudulent transfer proceedings in two jurisdictions and will only have to do so in the Republic.

She had failed to satisfy accepted legal tests in relation to the appropriate forum question.

She had failed to discharge the burden of proof and he dismissed her application.

In the official assignee’s case here, he alleges directors’ loans and shares controlled by Mr Dunne in a company called Mavior were fraudulently transferred to Ms Killilea Dunne is an effort to defeat Mr Dunne’s creditors.

It also relates to the transfer of the Lagoon Beach Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa, and any other assets transferred to her by Mr Dunne under a February 2008 agreement.

The claims are denied.