Former rugby international can keep claim over disputed land – High Court

Fergus Slattery in dispute with wife of ex-financial adviser over sale of south Dublin site

A High Court ruling means former Ireland rugby international Fergus Slattery can maintain a legal question mark over the sale of a south Dublin house site which is part of a dispute between him and his former financial adviser, Gerry McCoy.

Mr McCoy's wife, Deborah McCoy, had claimed Mr Slattery did not have a proper claim over a site next to her family home at Taney Park, Dundrum, which could justify his registering of the legal question mark.

Known as a “lis pendens”, it warns prospective purchasers of the site of a legal claim over the land. Ms McCoy wanted the court to order the lis pendens be vacated so the site could be sold.

On Wednesday, Mr Justice Tony O’Connor dismissed Ms McCoy’s application. The case centred on part of the land forming what was originally the full McCoy home property at Taney Park.


Half of the land, which has planning permission for another single house, was used a part-security for an Ulster Bank loan which became part of a deal between Mr Slattery and Mr McCoy to buy an investment property in Mount Merrion in 2007.

Period building

This property was Owenstown House, a period building off Foster’s Avenue and close to UCD, which was leased to Mr McCoy’s failed investment firm, Asset Management Trust.

The €686,500 purchase price for Owenstown was funded by a loan from Ulster Bank, €200,000 from Mr Slattery, and €40,000 from Mr McCoy who provided the Taney Park site as part security and also agreed to repay the mortgage.

Gavin Mooney SC, for Ms McCoy, told the court in the application to have the lis pendens lifted, Mr Slattery claimed the €200,000 was a loan. Mr Mooney said this was in fact an equity investment, not a loan.

Counsel said Ms McCoy’s case was that Mr Slattery could not assert an interest in the Taney Park site which was amenable to the registering of a lis pendens because he did not have an interest in the site. Mr Slattery failed to provide reasons for registering the lis pendens but only referred to his separate High Court action against Mr McCoy, counsel said.

The court heard this separate action by Mr Slattery in 2015, seeking the recovery of €160,000 outstanding from the €200,000 loan he claimed he gave Mr McCoy, resulted in a judgment in default against Mr McCoy.

Final outcome

The final outcome of that action is pending. Gavin Ralston SC with Ben O’Floinn SC, for Mr Slattery, urged the court to reject the application.

Counsel said Ms McCoy had no legal standing to challenge the validity of the separate proceedings by Mr Slattery against Mr McCoy. It was only after Mr Slattery registered the lis pendens against Taney Park that Mr McCoy transferred an interest in the site to his wife, he said.

He also said there had not been unreasonable delay by Mr Slattery in prosecuting his proceedings against Mr McCoy.

Dismissing Ms McCoy’s claim, Mr Justice O’Connor said Mr Slattery’s proceedings against Mr McCoy have not been discontinued. The judge said he was satisfied there was no unreasonable delay in prosecuting them.

He also noted, since the collapse of Mr McCoy’s business in 2015, he had remained unwell. Whatever way one looked at matters relevant to the lis pendens, they only affected the interests of Mr McCoy, the judge said.

Ms McCoy could not rely on any infirmities in the separate Mr Slattery/Mr McCoy proceedings which are pending, he said.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times