The successor to Anglo Irish Bank wants a Belfast court to allow it to take evidence from three witnesses in Dublin as part of its defence of property magnate Peter Curistan's multi-million pound legal action against it.
In an almost unprecedented move, lawyers for the former Anglo are asking Northern Ireland's High Court to issue a letter requesting depositions from one-time bank executives Pat Whelan, Peter Butler and Joe McWilliams. If successful, it would be the first time since the Omagh bomb civil action that litigation in the North has involved evidence being taken in another jurisdiction.
Mr Curistan, the developer who built Belfast's Odyssey entertainment complex, is suing Anglo's successor, the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, for alleged fraud. The businessman is also claiming breach of duty and negligence over the process to find a buyer for his long-term lease in the venue.
Papers in the case state that Mr Whelan, Mr Butler, and Mr McWilliams are considered as essential witnesses in the defence of the case. The defendant intends to call them, but they have not confirmed their consent to attendance at the main hearing of the action, according to the documents.
Because the three men reside in the Republic, lawyers representing IBRC have now applied to a judge in Belfast for a letter of request to take their evidence by deposition.
At the High Court on Thursday Madam Justice McBride adjourned proceedings for a further review in four weeks time.
Mr Curistan is suing in a personal capacity after previous litigation was brought in the name of Sheridan Millenium, a company he ran before it went into administration in 2011. After losing control of the Odyssey Pavilion to Anglo, he was disqualified from being a company director for six years in 2016. He has also been discharged from a 12-month bankruptcy order made in 2012. Since then he has continued with a series of actions against the bank.
Papers lodged in Mr Curistan’s current lawsuit focus on claims around how Anglo identified one of its clients as a potential purchaser for the leases in around 2008-09. It is alleged that the management of the process amounted to a “shadow directorship”. Other, better placed potential purchasers were ignored, according to claims against the bank.