Property investor sues developer Greg Kavanagh over loans
Case fails to make commercial court list over four year delay in taking proceedings
A four-year delay in taking proceedings means a case against developer Greg Kavanagh over allegedly unpaid loans will not go on the Commercial Court list. Photograph: Aidan Crawley
A property investor is suing developer Greg Kavanagh for €6.4 million over alleged default on a debt related to loans to his company and personal guarantees.
Anne O’Neill, Mount Pleasant Square, Dublin, is seeking summary judgment for the money against Mr Kavanagh, of Shaw’s Lane, Bath Avenue, Dublin.
She claims he failed to meet a demand for repayment issued last May and has brought High Court proceedings.
Mr Kavanagh, a director of Ballycrag Developments, which was struck off the Companies Register last year, denies liability and says he has a good defence and counterclaim to her case.
On Monday, Mr Justice David Barniville refused to admit the case to the fast-track commercial list because of what he said was a significant four-year delay between when the debt became due and proceedings were taken.
The case will instead proceed through the court’s ordinary non-jury list.
In her action, Ms O’Neill claims Mr Kavanagh’s liability to her became enforceable in May 2016 but she had, at his request, given him forbearance as a result of representations made by him at different stages that he would discharge the money due.
She claims she made two loans to Ballycrag Developments in September and December 2013 totalling €975,000, with Ballycrag providing security in a first fixed charge over a property, Wynnstay House, Clonskeagh, Dublin.
In January 2014, that loan was consolidated into a €2 million loan with 20 per cent interest, it is claimed.
Ms O’Neill also claims Mr Kavanagh had entered into a personal guarantee and indemnity agreement with her in November 2015 to guarantee the obligations of Ballycrag to her. Under that, it was agreed the amount then owing was €2.8 million plus interest, she says.
Mr Kavanagh gave an undertaking to sell his shareholding in a company, Greybirch Ltd, to pay down the money owing to her and further agreed that if she was not repaid by February 2016 he would sell the Clonskeagh property to pay off the debt, she claims.
Since February 2016, Mr Kavanagh outlined “various scenarios” which would result in repayment but “none came to fruition”, she says. She believed it was used as “a means of deflection, delay and prevarication” to persuade her against taking legal action.
She says that in October 2016 there were newspaper reports that Mr Kavanagh was to receive €150 million from his former financial backers, M&G Investments, under a settlement agreement. Mr Kavanagh, she says, had a dispute with M&G and eventually High Court proceedings over the matter were settled in 2017.
Despite the ultimate resolution of that and another dispute with a businessman, he had still refused to pay her, she says. He also promised to sell Clonskeagh but no money was paid to her, she says.
He told her he had arranged a loan from Lotus Finance but the loan was never drawn down, she further claims.
Last May, Mr Kavanagh settled proceedings taken by his brother who claimed 50 per cent of ownership in Mr Kavanagh’s businesses, she says. She is now concerned Greg Kavanagh’s assets may be reduced.
In an affidavit filed last week, Mr Kavanagh, a director of Structured Marshalled Investments Ltd, says Ms O’Neill’s husband had invested the money “through Ms O’Neill effectively as his proxy, agent or alter ego”.
He says she refers to the M&G and other matters “to create the impression of forbearance”. Even if that was the case “which it was not”, the fact was, on her own case “such forbearance has proven ineffective since as far back as 2016”, he said.
He claimed Ms O’Neill has been guilty of very substantial pre-action delay in bringing the case and he opposed entry to the Commercial Court.
Far from showing forbearance, as she claimed, she and more particularly her husband had been vigorous in making demands and threats of enforcement against him, including threatening to seek the winding up of Ballycrag, he claims.
The dispute with his brother “has no relevance or connection whatsoever” to these proceedings, he added.