Two bank representatives behaved inappropriately and made “outrageous” allegations in a solicitor’s office before being told to leave by gardaí, a Court of Appeal judge has said.
Mr Justice Gerard Hogan said he "struggled to speak with any degree of moderation" in relation to an episode that started on September 28th, 2012, when two ACC Loan Management representatives demanded property deeds at the Athlone office of Orla Cummins, who had taken over the practice of Anthony Barry, in 2005.
It was sufficient to say what the two men did in the office was “quite inappropriate”, the judge said. Allegations made by them to office secretaries and to gardaí concerning Ms Cummins were “simply outrageous and completely false”, the judge said in a judgment dismissing an appeal by the bank.
The judge noted the two men arrived at Ms Cummins’s office without an appointment after ACC’s deputy head of retail wrote to her saying named bank officials would attend her office and ask her to hand over title deeds to two apartments.
The bank claimed she was wrongfully holding the documents without its consent.
There had previously been a dispute between Ms Cummins and ACC over the manner and delay in putting a charge over those properties, the judge said.
While noting the bank had a “legitimate grievance” about this, the judge blamed the bank for the escalation of the dispute over a relatively minor issue that could, “with a modicum of good sense and goodwill on all sides”, have been resolved.
After the office incident, the bank asked the Law Society to treat as misconduct by Ms Cummins the failure to hand over the documents. The bank later withdrew that complaint and an earlier one against the firm. It said this was done so its court action could commence.
The judge said “the most charitable thing” that could be said about the complaint to the Law Society was it was “completely without substance” and removed from reality.