Taggart brothers win right to trial


TWO BROTHERS have won their appeal against initial rulings that they must repay the Ulster Bank more than £8 million (almost €10 million).

A High Court judge set aside summary findings that Michael and John Taggart were liable for alleged personal guarantees and ordered the case to go to a full trial later this year.

Mr Justice Bernard McCloskey held that the claim against the brothers should not be decided without hearing witness evidence.

Overturning an earlier decision reached without a trial, he said this would have been appropriate only if the Ulster Bank case was unanswerable. “The degree of confidence which is a prerequisite to any summary judgment order is lacking,” he said.

In March last year the bank successfully sought a High Court adjudication in two separate writs for £5m and €4.3m. Proceedings were brought over joint personal guarantees for borrowings by Taggart Holdings Ltd in Northern Ireland and Taggart Homes Ireland Ltd in the Republic.

The brothers, whose building and development empire collapsed in the property crash, disputed the claims. They argue they fully discharged their contractual obligations and have no liability.

According to their affidavits, the brothers’ turnover in 2006 was £112m. Two years later the Taggart Group was forced into administration.

Lawyers for the Ulster Bank argued that, on the evidence, there was no chance of the brothers making out a real or bona fide defence. With illness and the stress of getting married cited in response to the claim against them, the judge was told the pair were “grasping at straws”.

The judge held that the defendants had a right to a full trial.