Cantillon: Ulster Bank’s US lawyers turn to Latin to break new ground in Dunne bankruptcy

Developer Seán Dunne. Dunne reportedly lives in a very nice house indeed in the attractive town of Greenwich, Connecticut, which he and his wife, Gayle Killilea, are upgrading. But as they might put it if they had been to law school – dum vivimus, vivamus.

Developer Seán Dunne. Dunne reportedly lives in a very nice house indeed in the attractive town of Greenwich, Connecticut, which he and his wife, Gayle Killilea, are upgrading. But as they might put it if they had been to law school – dum vivimus, vivamus.

 

The latest court filing in Connecticut in the case where property developer Sean Dunne is seeking to be declared a bankrupt includes a brief summary of his former relationship with the bank.

Henry P Baer, of Finn Dixon & Herling, Stamford, Connecticut, on behalf of Ulster Bank, submitted a motion seeking to have the US court remove any automatic stay it might have created over the bank’s application in Ireland to have Dunne declared a bankrupt there – effectively a parallel bankruptcy process.

When outlining the debt Dunne has with the bank, Baer described the circumstances behind Ulster’s involvement in lending money for Dunne’s disastrous proposed venture in Ballsbridge, Dublin, at the height of the bubble years.

“This development included, according to estimates, the purchase of one acre of land for upwards of €54,000,000, and was sometimes referred to as an attempt to build a Dubai-esque culture in Dublin.”

The lawyer does not develop this point or further explain what a Dubai-esque culture might look like on the banks of the Dodder. Nor does he explain how the bank and its then senior management came to believe it would be a good idea to throw such enormous quantities of money at a proposal of that type. Instead Baer concentrates on urging the court to decide that justice would be best served by having Dunne declared a bankrupt in Ireland regardless of what happens in the US, given that Dunne “entered into multiple transactions with aggregate values in excess of €1 billion in Ireland”.

At this point in the document, the author gives way to the seemingly irresistible propensity of lawyers to slip in the occasional Latin phrase.

“While the [US} court has in personam and in rem jurisdiction over [Dunne] and the property in his estate, respectively, it is doubtful that the court has in personam jurisdiction over non-participating foreign creditors lacking minimum contacts with the United States.”

A few minutes on Google indicates the sentence means the court has jurisdiction over the man and his stuff, but not over the folks left out of pocket back in Ireland.

Dunne reportedly lives in a very nice house indeed in the attractive town of Greenwich, Connecticut, which he and his wife, Gayle Killilea, are upgrading. But as they might put it if they had been to law school – dum vivimus, vivamus .

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