Man seeks to sue estate agent over €30m valuation

Monaghan shopkeeper claims independent valuation he obtained put value of sites at €3m


A Monaghan shopkeeper adjudicated bankrupt after a bank obtained a €32 million judgment against him over unpaid loans wants to sue estate agents CBRE over an alleged €30 million valuation in 2007 of sites near his supermarket in Castleblayney.

Jim McConnon claims an independent valuation he recently obtained had put the sites value in 2007 at €3 million.

Mr McConnon borrowed some €32 million from Zurich Bank, now called Dunbar Assets Ireland, to develop a shopping centre in the Co Monaghan town, but he was unable to repay and the bank obtained judgment against him.

The bank also successfully petitioned to have Mr McConnon, Main Street, Castleblayney, adjudicated bankrupt last July.

Ms Justice Caroline Costello was told yesterday by Vincent P. Martin, for Mr McConnon, that his client now wanted to sue CBRE in the High Court arising out of the alleged 2007 valuations.

Market valuations

The sites were valued at that time by CBRE as having market value totalling €30 million and, relying on these reports, Mr McConnon got loans of €32 million from Zurich, which he was ultimately unable to repay.

Mr McConnon’s case was CBRE’s valuation of the sites was “nowhere near” the real market value, Mr Martin added. His client recently commissioned an independent valuer to conduct a further report on the sites and that report put a 2007 value of €3 million on the two sites. CBRE’s figure represented “940 per cent of the sites’ true valuation”.

Mr McConnon had last December, through his solicitor, issued proceedings against CBRE alleging the firm was negligent in relation to the alleged valuations. He is also alleging personal injury and defamation against CBRE.

Official assignee

The official assignee, Chris Lehane, said his office required some sort of “a mark” or “surety” from Mr McConnon before allowing the case to proceed. If the claim was allowed, he added, it would be brought through the official assignee and if Mr McConnon lost, there could be cost implications for the taxpayer.

Mr Martin argued that Mr McConnon had a constitutional right to proceed with his action even if a mark or surety could not be put forward.

Ms Justice Costello adjourned the matter to next month.