Bula Resources shareholder cannot pursue losses claim

Mary Kieran claimed to have suffered losses due to a government inquiry in the 1990s

Pat Mahony (left), then-managing director, and Tom Fitzpatrick, then-chairman, at an extraordinary general meeting of Bula Resources in 2002.

Pat Mahony (left), then-managing director, and Tom Fitzpatrick, then-chairman, at an extraordinary general meeting of Bula Resources in 2002.

 

A businesswoman who claims she was the largest shareholder in the wound up oil exploration company Bula Resources cannot continue a High Court action for losses she claims to have suffered from a government-ordered inquiry into the firm in the 1990s.

Mary Kieran, who says she owned 3.95 per cent of Bula’s issued share capital, the shareholding of which was held via a company called Chamonix Nominees, sued the Minister for Jobs Enterprise and Innovation, the State, and barrister Lyndon MacCann.

Mr MacCann was appointed in 1997 by then-minister for trade, enterprise and employment, Mary Harney to investigate the beneficial ownership of Bula shares held by the Mir Oil Development company up to November 1996 and by Chamonix Nominees after that date.

Mr MacCann found that Bula’s chief executive James Stanley had at all times controlled Mir.

Ms Kieran was among individuals interviewed by Mr MacCann as part of his investigation in 1998.

In February 2016, she issued High Court proceedings against the State parties and Mr MacCann, claiming, among other things, fraudulent misrepresentation, malicious falsehood and defamation.

She alleged Ms Harney wrongfully delegated the exercise of her discretion on this matter to the opinions of Mr MacCann without exercising her own independent judgment including seeking knowledge of the situation from the Russian authorities in relation to an oil field in Salymskoye, Siberia, owned by Mir.

Ms Kieran claimed Ms Harney wrongly acted under the dictation of Mr MacCann without exercising independent judgment, including evaluation of the situation with knowledge of events on the ground in Russia.

She claimed this led to the development of the Siberian oil field by the Shell and Sibir companies to her economic loss and detriment.

She also said the Minister fettered her discretion by not looking beyond the confines of the “limited report” of Mr MacCann.

She further claimed Mr MacCann’s report wrongly, falsely and maliciously characterised that a well drilled in the Siberian oil field was “a dud” without an independent third test to determine the correctness of two previous differing drilling results.

The claims were denied.

The defendants sought to have her action dismissed on grounds it was frivolous and vexatious and/or bound to fail and/or was an abuse of process and/or contrary to the interests of justice. The dismissal was also sought on grounds of delay in bringing the case.

The case was heard last month but Ms Kieran did not appear, nor was she represented. She had written saying that due to unforeseen circumstances she needed an adjournment and also said she was “not in top form at present”.

The case went ahead.

On Thursday, Mr Justice Charles Meenan dismissed her case saying it was statute barred. He also said the proceedings had been initiated after the time periods provided for by the rules of the superior courts.

He said a fair trial was no longer possible owing to the lapse of time and found Ms Kieran’s statement of claim disclosed no reasonable cause of action.

He adjourned the question of costs for a fortnight.