Appeal court upholds dismissal of Blackrock Clinic co-founder’s claim

Dr Joseph Sheehan in dispute with financier Talos Capital over €2.4m loan guarantee

In his action, Dr Sheehan had alleged that because of fraudulent misrepresentation, he signed a settlement agreement with Talos in relation to a guarantee he provided for a €2.4 million loan by Talos to the Sheehan-controlled company, JCS. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

In his action, Dr Sheehan had alleged that because of fraudulent misrepresentation, he signed a settlement agreement with Talos in relation to a guarantee he provided for a €2.4 million loan by Talos to the Sheehan-controlled company, JCS. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

The Court of Appeal has upheld a High Court decision to dismiss a claim by Blackrock Clinic co-founder Dr Joseph Sheehan for fraudulent misrepresentation against financier Talos Capital which provided loans to a Sheehan-controlled company set up to buy loans from the special liquidators of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).

The Court Of Appeal (COA) – comprised of Ms Justice Maura Whelan, Mr Justice Maurice Collins and Mr Justice Donald Binchy – said that a 2018 decision by Mr Justice Michael Twomey should not be disturbed.

Criticisms

However, the COA said that certain criticisms made about Dr Sheehan by the High Court were “unfortunate” and “not appropriate” in the circumstances.

In his action, Dr Sheehan had alleged that because of fraudulent misrepresentation, he signed a settlement agreement with Talos in relation to a guarantee he provided for a €2.4 million loan by Talos to the Sheehan-controlled company, JCS.

This money was for a deposit to purchase the IBRC loans.

Dr Sheehan claimed that at the time of the settlement agreement, it had been impliedly misrepresented to him by Talos’s solicitors that JCS, which was by then controlled by Talos, had not settled a claim for the return of the deposit when in fact it had done so.

Talos denied the claims.

The judge found there was no misrepresentation by Talos to Dr Sheehan.

He also rejected a second claim by Dr Sheehan relating to reduction of his debt by €1.7 million based on an allegation of concurrent wrongdoing.

In his judgment Mr Justice Twomey was critical of Dr Sheehan.

He said that there had been judgments given by the High Court and Court of Appeal in relation to what is essentially a private dispute over the ownership of Blackrock Hospital in cases that have taken up half a year of court time.

Arising out of this dispute, proceedings had been brought by Dr Sheehan against Talos for alleged misrepresentation, before the New York Courts.

Talos later brought an anti-suit action against him in England, because this country had exclusive jurisdiction to deal with this aspect of his case.

Dispute

Mr Justice Twomey said it was clear to the court that, even before the Talos proceedings, Dr Sheehan and the parties he is in dispute with over Blackrock Hospital “are monopolising large periods of time of the High Court and Court of Appeal while at the same time there are large backlogs in both courts and thus other litigants are having their right of access to the courts delayed”.

Mr Justice Twomey said he was prepared to consider the bringing of an application, known as an Isaac Wunder order, which would restrict his ability to bring legal actions because of the number of actions he had been involved with regarding the clinic.

Representing himself in the appeal, Dr Sheehan appealed the High Court’s decision to the COA, which was opposed by Talos.

Giving the appeal court’s decision Mr Justice Collins said that, based on the evidence put before him, the trial judge was entitled to make the findings that he did.

Mr Justice Collins said that that while no Isaac Wunder order was sought or made against Dr Sheehan, the statements made by him in his judgment was very critical of Dr Sheehan and suggest to the reader that a basis for making such an order existed.

Dr Sheehan was not on notice that the judge was going to address this issue and he and his legal team had no opportunity to be heard or to address the judge’s concerns and criticisms, Mr Justice Collins said.

That was “not an appropriate or fair procedure and in the circumstances and the High Court judge ought not to have addressed this issue in his judgment,” Mr Justice Collins added.

The tenor and terms of the criticisms made by the High Court were also “unfortunate,” Mr Justice Collins said.

The State makes available a system of courts to adjudicate on (inter alia) civil claims between private parties, the Judge said.

The litigation involving Blackrock Clinic was certainly complex, involving multiple parties, actions, issues and applications.

Asset

At the centre of the litigation was a very valuable asset. The litigation was extremely contentious, Mr Justice Collins said.

It was “hardly surprising that the resolution of that litigation has required significant court time” and there was and is “no basis for suggesting that Dr Sheehan somehow bore sole responsibility for the litigation”, Mr Justice Collins said.

Mr Justice Collins said while the COA was critical of certain of the statements made by Mr Justice Twomey, he did not accept that his judgement demonstrates antipathy to Dr Sheehan.

The High Court deals carefully and thoroughly with the claims before it made by Dr Sheehan, the COA held.

In short the judge’s “conclusions on the merits of these claims cannot be impeached”.

However, insofar as the judge was critical of Dr Sheehan, this court’s judgment suffices to vindicate Dr Sheehan’s position, Mr Justice Collins concluded.