Decision on Gayle Killilea Dunne appeal due at later date

Challenge to court ruling refusing cross-examination of US attorney

Gayle Killilea Dunne wanted her lawyers to cross examine a US attorney involved in her husband Sean Dunne’s US bankruptcy proceedings. Photograph: Collins

Gayle Killilea Dunne wanted her lawyers to cross examine a US attorney involved in her husband Sean Dunne’s US bankruptcy proceedings. Photograph: Collins

 

A decision will be given at a later date on an appeal by Gayle Killilea Dunne, wife of bankrupt developer Sean Dunne, over a High Court refusal to allow her lawyers to cross examine a US attorney involved in her husband’s US bankruptcy proceedings.

The three-judge Court of Appeal said on Thursday it hoped to give its judgment as soon as possible.

The decision will determine whether there is a further appeal hearing in relation to a separate application to have the court strike out proceedings taken over Mr Dunne’s separate bankruptcy in Ireland in relation to the transfer of properties in South Africa and Ireland between the Dunnes.

Ms Killilea says the proceedings brought in Ireland by official assignee Chris Lehane duplicate the US proceedings, are wholly unfair and should be discontinued.

Last February, the High Court rejected her claim along with an application to cross-examine the US lawyer acting for the US bankruptcy trustee as part of her challenge to the Irish proceedings.

In the appeal, Ms Killilea sought to overturn a High Court decision refusing to allow her to cross examine Timothy Miltenberger, the lawyer acting for the “Chapter Seven” trustee dealing with Mr Dunne’s bankruptcy in the US. He was declared bankrupt in both the US and the Republic in 2013.

The application was opposed by Mr Lehane who says the asset transfer between the Dunnes was invalid.

The appeal also relates to an application to dismiss proceedings by Mr Lehane related to agreements between Mr and Ms Killilea in 2005 and 2008 to transfer interests to her and her children a number of assets, including a hotel called Lagoon Beach in Cape Town, South Africa as well as properties in Dublin and Wicklow.

Ms Killilea claims those proceedings are unfair because they cover the same grounds as proceedings in the US.

Clear conflicts

John O’Donnell SC, for Ms Killilea, said the cross examination of the US trustee’s lawyer was essential to her challenge because there were clear conflicts between that lawyer and the attorney representing his client in America. This could only be resolved by cross-examination of the trustee’s lawyer on evidence he had sworn on affidavit.

There was also the fact that Ms Killilea has had, as a result of the Irish official’s proceedings, to deal with duplicate proceedings and all the costs that go with that.

Mark Sanfey, for Mr Lehane, opposed the appeal to cross examine and said the High Court decision should stand.

He said the function of the Irish official is to collect assets of the bankrupt on behalf of creditors and the High Court had found this was the proper jurisdiction for him to do so. Mr Lehane’s proceedings had also been supported by the US trustee and the US bankruptcy judge.

The US trustee had offered to assist in ensuring there was no duplication of proceedings in both jurisdictions but Ms Killilea took no steps to help ensure that would not happen, Mr Sanfey said.

Mr Justice Michael Peart, on behalf of the Court of Appeal, said they hoped to give their decision on the application to cross-examine as soon as possible. If a further hearing on the application to strike out the Irish proceedings is needed, that will get an early date.