A finance company has obtained summary judgment for €1.5 million at the High Court against former junior minister Ivor Callely over loans for property investments.
Mr Callely opposed the application by Everyday Finance DAC but his estranged wife, Jennifer Foley, reached a settlement with the company involving her consenting on Thursday, through her counsel Raghnal O'Riordan SC, to judgment for €1.5 million against her.
A stay applies on the judgment against Ms Foley until May 15th or such other date as may be agreed and Everyday has also agreed not to seek to sell before then a property at St Lawrence Road, Clontarf, Dublin where Ms Foley is living.
Cian Ferriter SC, in seeking judgment for Everyday against Mr Callely, said it was “very anxious” to get judgment now as it was aware other creditors are “chasing” Mr Callely and Everyday wanted to protect its position.
Mr Callely, representing himself, sought an adjournment on health grounds, arising from serious injuries suffered in a bicycle accident in August 2019, saying that affected his ability to deal with the case and earn an income.
He had been a hospital in-patient until late January, is on medication and had taken some 100 tablets in recent days which were affecting him in several respects, he said, asking for a glass of water.
He said he had not had a continuous night’s sleep since the accident and has a problem with his hands making it difficult to trawl through paperwork.
He argued he had a defence based on an alleged settlement with AIB over the relevant loans, made in 2013 to the couple and acquired by Everyday in 2018. A former AIB official had indicated he would come to court on Thursday had, due to concerns about coronavirus, said he could not do so, he added.
Some people would regard as “fake news” that a house on Furry Park Road, Killester in Dublin was sold for just €385,000, which sum had reduced the original debt to Everyday, he said.
Mr Callely disputed he had sought to give Everyday “the runaround” or had deactivated his email on one occasion. He had had a “near-death experience” and was at the mercy of the court.
The adjournment application was strongly resisted by Mr Ferriter, with Eamon Marray BL, instructed by O’Brien Lynam Solicitors. Mr Callely’s claims about inability to carry on business and deal with the court proceedings contrasted with what a summons server for Everyday observed during an encounter with him, counsel said.
Mr Callely had sought to give Everyday “the run around” for several months and another High Court judge found last November he had taken steps to evade service of Everyday’s proceedings, counsel said.
A summons server who pretended to be interested in buying a car from Mr Callely served papers on him when he was sitting in a car but Mr Callely then placed the papers under the windscreen wipers of the summons server’s car, counsel said.
In contrast, Ms Foley “engaged responsibly” at all times, counsel added.
In his decision, Mr Justice Twomey said Mr Callely had produced no sworn evidence of any settlement with AIB and the only sworn evidence regarding existence of a settlement was from Ms Foley denying its existence.
Ms Foley had said in an affidavit AIB had had many negotiations with Mr Callely and herself but no settlement was reached “for which I hold [Mr Callely] responsible”.
This meant Mr Callely’s defence was at most, “mere assertion”, and he had no reasonable probability of having a fair or bona fide defence to the judgment claim, the judge ruled.
While having sympathy for Mr Callely regarding the life-changing injuries he had suffered, the court had “no option” but to grant an order for judgment for €1.5 million.
Mr Callely resisted Mr Ferriter’s application for costs against him, saying there were “exceptional” circumstances arising from the bicycle accident and his “unique” position as an inpatient until last January and having no earnings during the relevant period.
For reasons including the evidence relating to efforts to serve the proceedings on Mr Callely, the judge said no exceptional circumstances arose to depart from the normal rule that costs go to the winning party.
Everyday had originally sought judgment for €2.9 million jointly and severally against Mr Callely and Ms Foley. Arising from sales of properties, including a house at Furry Park Road, Killester, that sum was reduced to some €1.63 million. Because Everyday reached a settlement with Ms Foley for €1.5 million, it told the court it was seeking judgment in the same sum against him rather than €1.63 million.