Two Bula Mines founders declared bankrupt

Judgment against Michael Wymes and Richard Wood over €4.8m legal costs debt

 Michael Wymes, one of the founders  of  Bula Mines: appeared in person to oppose the bankruptcy petition.  Photograph: Ronan Quinlan

Michael Wymes, one of the founders of Bula Mines: appeared in person to oppose the bankruptcy petition. Photograph: Ronan Quinlan

 

The High Court has declared bankrupt two founders of the collapsed Bula mines company over non-payment of a €4.8 million legal costs debt.

Mr Justice Charles Meenan said Michael Wymes and Richard Wood must each be adjudicated bankrupt.

The two, along with Tom Roche snr, had established Bula in 1971 to buy a zinc and lead mine near Navan, Co Meath, but it collapsed with substantial debts some years later. The State was a shareholder in the company.

Protracted litigation followed the collapse.

In July 2003, costs of the litigation, after taxation, were issued for €3.29 million, which, with interest, now amounted to some €4.8 million.

The minister for communications, energy and natural resources set about recovering that money and, in 2010, issued bankruptcy proceedings against Mr Wymes and Mr Wood.

Further litigation

Further litigation followed in which Mr Wymes sought but failed to dismiss the bankruptcy summons.

As a result of those proceedings, the petition to have the men declared bankrupt was put on hold but was renewed last January.

Mr Wymes appeared in person to oppose the petition. Mr Wood, who was represented, also did not consent to the orders being sought.

In his judgment adjudicating them bankrupt, Mr Justice Meenan said it was clear that a number of the grounds that Mr Wymes had relied on in the previous High and Supreme Court hearings were also being relied on in this case.

No grounds

The judge said, in considering the defences raised by Mr Wymes, the court could not allow him “to either relitigate issues that have already been decided or to raise issues that ought to have been raised” in previous proceedings.

Having analysed the defences put forward, no grounds had been advanced to invoke the inherent jurisdiction of the court to place a stay on these bankruptcy proceedings, he held.

The Minister was entitled to the reliefs he sought and the debtors, Mr Wymes and Mr Wood, must each be adjudicated bankrupt, he ruled.