The Court of Appeal has dismissed a businessman’s appeals in a case where he sought to assert a beneficial interest in the former home of himself and his ex-wife bought in trust by her parents for €3.65 million.
In a judgment on behalf of the three-judge court, Ms Justice Mary Faherty ruled that various procedural orders granted by the High Court which Brendan O’Rourke had appealed should not be overturned.
In 2018 the High Court rejected claims by Brendan O’Rourke, who married Diane O’Rourke in August 2004, that he was led to believe that Furness Hall in Naas, Co Kildare, was, or would become, the property of himself and Diane O’Rourke after three years of marriage. Nor had he shown the property was “gifted” to the couple by her parents, the judge had ruled.
His claims had been disputed by his former father-in-law, developer Dermot O’Rourke, who said he always intended to buy his daughter a property for her to live in and would decide, after an undetermined number of years, whether to give the property to her.
Dermot O’Rourke and his wife Perle had accepted Furness Hall was in negative equity and did not dispute the bank’s entitlement to enforce its security, the judge said.
The Court of Appeal judge rejected Brendan O’Rourke’s contentions that the High Court had erred in striking out the entirety of his claim against the first defendant, Diane O’Rourke.
Ms Justice Faherty accepted the submissions from Diane O’Rourke and Dermot and Perle O’Rourke that the former had no benefit to bring to Brendan O’Rourke’s claim as she did not own the property and was a “mere licensee”.
The Court of Appeal also dismissed Brendan O’Rourke’s appeals to the order striking out elements of his replying submissions, finding their absence had not inhibited him from advancing his claim.
The judge further found “no basis” for his claims that the High Court had failed to engage with and weigh certain key evidence in support of his case.
Mr O’Rourke’s fifth appeal was against an order of the High Court in proceedings brought against him and a construction company by Ulster Bank.
The judge noted that, after Diane O’Rourke had vacated the property and given keys to the bank, Brendan O’Rourke occupied it from in or around July 2012 until January 2019.
In December 2018, the High Court granted the bank an injunction restraining him from trespassing on the lands of Furness Hall pending the outcome of those full proceedings.
In upholding that order, Ms Justice Faherty said Brendan O’Rourke’s status in relation to Furness Hall is “akin to that of a trespasser” in circumstances where consent to his being there is not forthcoming from Dermot and Perle O’Rourke as the mortgagors who have accepted the bank is entitled to possession.
Mr Justice Brian Murray and Ms Justice Teresa Pilkinton indicated their agreement with the judgment.