Start Mortgages gets possession order for family home over €60,000 debt

Judge urges homeowners to ‘do the sensible thing’ and engage with Start and Mabs

At the High Court, Mr Justice Max Barrett said there was still “time galore” to see if there was some means of arriving at a repayment solution that would not involve the family losing their home.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Max Barrett said there was still “time galore” to see if there was some means of arriving at a repayment solution that would not involve the family losing their home.

 

Start Mortgages is entitled to an order for possession over a family home in Co Wexford over default on loans secured on the property, the High Court has ruled. Mr Justice Max Barrett appealed to Christopher Cussen and Elizabeth Cussen to, “even at this late stage”, “do the sensible thing”, engage properly with Start over debt of some €60,000, and seek advice from the Money Advice Budgeting Service (Mabs).

When the defendants first defaulted on their mortgage-secured loan in 2011, they owed about €15,000, he noted. Had they engaged properly then with Start and sought a solicitor or consulted with Mabs, he had no doubt some arrangement would have been arrived at. Regrettably, that did not happen and they took a “most unwise” stance, including “ill-advised” correspondence with Start and not making any repayments at all since 2017.

They appeared to have either fallen into the clutches of “unregulated charlatans” who sell vulnerable indebted people “a crock of nonsense” that there is some legal trick to avoid repayment of lawfully incurred debts or to have downloaded documents from such “fraudsters”.

‘Time galore’

Noting it could take up to two years for the possession order to be enforced, he said there was still “time galore” to see if there is some means of arriving at a repayment solution that will not involve them losing their family home. They cannot pay “absolutely nothing” to reduce still-mounting arrears, avoid any meaningful engagement with Start and expect the courts “will laud their stance or that things will somehow work themselves out”, he stressed.

While Ms Cussen had mentioned in court she had approached Mabs and would like to see if things could be resolved with Start, it was not clear she had ever said any of this to Start, with the result it just did not know if there had been a “change of heart” by the defendants.

He made the remarks in his judgment this week dismissing the appeal by the defendants, of Ballyacoonogue, the Ballagh, Enniscorthy, against a Circuit Court order obtained by Start for possession of their property.

Mr Cussens did not attend the one-day appeal hearing. Ms Cussens represented herself. The judge noted Permanent TSB advanced loans to the defendants between 2007 to 2009, totalling €95,000, events of default first occurred in 2011 and had continued. The debt was later acquired by Start.

‘Blizzard of documents’

The judge said a “blizzard” of documents from the defendants contained “oddities” including a document which referred to being “a living man and living woman” who “are not dead” and whose title in their estates had been vested “as per section IV of your cestui qui vie act of 1666”.

That document was “wanting in sense”, “you cannot escape a debt simply by dying” and he was “mystified” how an Act enacted by the English parliament in the reign of Charles II had anything to do with enforcing this loan. All borrowers, he urged, should avoid unregulated charlatans who offer false hope that repayment of lawfully incurred debts can be readily evaded through some trick of the legal loop and to avoid sending correspondence containing fanciful assertions/propositions/text.

The defendants arguments never engaged with the substance of what must be engaged with, their continuing default on their loan obligations, he said. He rejected all 27 grounds of challenge, including claims the Circuit Court had no jurisdiction to make the order, the case could not be brought because Ms Cussen had not consented to it, and alleged breaches of human rights law, GDPR and international instruments. There were “absolutely no grounds” for Ms Cussen’s complaints that counsel for Start was “quite aggressive” and “really aggressive” towards her during the appeal hearing, he added.