Bank of Ireland Mortgage Bank is not entitled to possession of the home of a deceased Co Sligo woman because it waited too long to bring an action in respect of the property, the High Court has heard.
The property is located at Mount Edwards Heights, Ballinfull, Co Sligo, and for many years was the home of Bridget Cunningham, who died in July 2008.
In 2006/07, when she was 86 years of age, the deceased borrowed €60,000, via a Life Loan mortgage from the bank to carry out improvements on the property, which consists of a rural detached cottage and six acres of farmland.
Mr Justice David Nolan was told on Friday that under the terms of the Life Loan no repayments were expected during Mrs Cunningham’s lifetime and it only became due and payable on her death.
No repayments have been made on the loan, which was secured by way of a charge over the deceased’s property.
The bank, which claims it is owed about €150,000 including interest from the estate, commenced proceedings in 2019 against Ms Cunningham’s estate seeking possession of the property, which, the court heard, has been valued at €180,000.
Ms Cunningham’s daughter, Teresa Gillespie, acting in her capacity as executrix of the estate, claims the bank’s action should be dismissed as statute barred and out of time under the 1961 Civil Liability Act.
Represented by Martin Hayden SC, Eoin O’Shea BL, instructed by Damien Martyn of McDermott Creed and Martyn Solicitors, she alleges the bank should have brought its claim for possession within two years of Mr Cunnigham’s death.
The bank says Ms Gillespie has no defence to its claim.
In 2015, the bank, represented by Brian McGuckian BL, formally called on the estate to make a full repayment on the loan. The bank issued proceedings in 2019 seeking possession of the property.
Ms Gillespie extracted a grant of probate over the estate in April 2021.
A solicitor nominated by the bank had previously been granted limited probate over the estate in 2019. Ms Gillespie subsequently took over as executrix.
Ms Gillespie claims the bank is not entitled to seek the level of interest being charged on the loan.
She said she had been contacted by the bank on several occasions after her mother’s death.
In an affidavit to the court, Ms Gillespie said that in 2019 a bank representative suggested to her that she should “as a gesture of good faith with the bank, make a payment on account against her mother’s loan debt”.
She did not take the bank up on that suggestion.
She also claims the property has been vacant since her mother’s death and rejects claims by the bank that she has been living there.
Following the conclusion of submissions from the parties Mr Justice Nolan said he was reserving his decision.