Jim Mansfield's son among group sued for €6.3m by AIB

 

THE COMMERCIAL Court will rule today whether AIB is entitled to summary judgment orders for some €6.28 million against four businessmen, including a son of well-known hotelier Jim Mansfield, over unpaid loans advanced to develop lands in Co Meath.

AIB has brought the claim against James Mansfield jnr, Palmerstown House, Johnstown, Co Kildare; Brian Higgins, Allensgrove, Celbridge Road, Leixlip, Co Kildare; Glen O’Callaghan, Drapier Road, Dublin 11; and Séamus Kavanagh Kyle, Killea, Templemore, Co Tipperary.

The bank alleges that the four owe some €6.3 million as a result of loans advanced to them from 2003, linked to the purchase of a site at Duleek, Co Meath.

The bank claims the defendants had formed the “Duleek partnership” to buy the lands to build apartment blocks, an underground car park, and commercial units, which were to be sold on. The bank demanded repayment of the loans last September.

Counsel for the defendants yesterday opposed the bank’s entitlement to summary judgment on grounds they had made out an arguable defence to the bank’s claim, justifying the case being sent to full hearing.

After hearing submissions from both sides, Mr Justice Peter Kelly reserved judgment to today.

Counsel for Mr Mansfield argued his client had got involved with the other defendants, who were friends of his, just to buy the lands in Duleek, and he had not intended to develop it.

Counsel said Mr Mansfield had literacy difficulties due to dyslexia and because he left school at a young age, and was unsure of the nature of the documentation he was signing in relation to the purported partnership.

A report from an educational psychologist put before the court stated the businessman had average intelligence, but the reading ability of a seven-year-old. Mr Mansfield had never read a book or a newspaper, counsel said.

When Mr Justice Kelly remarked this was an extraordinary claim where Mr Mansfield was a director of 23 companies involved in a range of activities, counsel said he was a director alongside his brother, father and mother, who would explain things to him.

Counsel said, in relation to this project, Mr Mansfield had stepped outside that “safety zone”.

Bill Shipsey, for Mr Higgins, Mr O’Callaghan and Mr Kavanagh said his clients were not contesting the factual matters but were contesting AIB’s entitlement to summary judgment on a point of law.

Denis McDonald for AIB rejected the defendants’ claims, saying the evidence showed the money was loaned to the four, who acted in a partnership.