Property firms' appeal refused

 

The High Court has dismissed an application by a company director and three Spanish property companies to discharge an order restraining them from reducing their assets below €840,000.

Mr Justice Thomas Smyth yesterday refused the discharge application brought by Karl Morris and Simple Palmera Properties Ltd (SPP), Simple Overseas Property Ltd (SOP) and Simple Property Group SL (SPG).

The order against Mr Morris, described as a director of all three companies, with an address at Mill House, Schull, Co Cork, and the companies, was granted on May 2nd last to Cyril McMorrow, Carrick Road, Boyle, Co Roscommon.

Mr McMorrow claims that the defendants have retained some €540,000 paid by him for investment in apartments in Spain and that he is also due some €300,000 for alleged loss of profit.

The court was told, among other claims, that some €2 million in client monies was wrongfully taken from certain company accounts. When the freezing order was granted, it was made on the basis of evidence from Mr McMorrow only.

In a detailed judgment yesterday, Mr Justice Smyth said that he had made the order freezing the defendants' assets below a certain value and he could not revisit the matter. Any appeal against the order must be made to the Supreme Court, he said.

At the time the order was sought, he gave the defendants plenty of time to file a response to the plaintiff's claims, the judge said. He would have accepted any documents, even if in a crude form.

However, the defendants had declined to respond, he said. He was therefore "denied the opportunity" to consider evidence from them. That was at the "deliberate choice and election of the defendants".

The hearing was on notice to both parties and the freezing order was not made on an ex-parte basis, he noted.

Mr Justice Smyth agreed to adjourn the issue of the costs of the proceedings until next Friday, to allow both sides to study his judgment.

Nicholas Butler SC, for the defendants, had argued that the court had jurisdiction to vary or discharge the freezing order.

Mr Butler said that "serious allegations" had been made against his clients, which were "fundamentally wrong". The reason why no replying affidavit was furnished to the court in May was because the length and detail of the plaintiff's claims meant time was required to put together a "coherent defence", he said.