Judge orders enforcement of sale order for ‘fine’ family home

Proceeds will benefit three adult children of woman who died since 2008 judicial separation

An order made in judicial separation proceedings for sale of a "fine" family home can be enforced, the High Court has ruled.

The sale proceeds will benefit the three adult children of a woman who died since the 2008 judicial separation order.

The judge noted the house is a “fine property” on the market since summer 2018 and theTheir maternal aunt, as executrix of her sister’s estate, had applied to enforce the house sale order because she considered the children’s father was obstructing that.

aunt considered her former brother in law was seeking too high a price for it. She obtained a valuation last year which was 87 per cent of the price he is currently seeking.


Under the judicial separation, the man had a right of residence in the house until, at the latest, the youngest child turned 18. He disputed the aunt’s claims, provided evidence of viewings of the property and of an offer for it equivalent to the valuation obtained by the aunt, and made various claims against the solicitor administering the estate.

In his recently published judgment, Mr Justice Barrett concluded the enforcement order should be granted.

The man struck him as a “good father who wants to protect his children” but his actions to date and persistence in seeking a sale price some 13 per cent above current market value, did not “sit well” with the sense he wished to facilitate the sale of the family home and has been doing, and will do, all he can to progress it, the judge said.

In continuation of his recently introduced practice, the judge attached a short letter addressed to the parties at the end of his judgment to explain, without “jargon”, the key points affecting them.

He told the aunt he shared her view, to discharge her role as executrix and ensure her late sister’s children’s inheritance is “not unduly depleted by the ever-rising costs of administering the estate”, the house should be sold “as efficiently as possible”.

He said he would make orders to assist that, including entrusting exclusive carriage of the sale to the solicitor administering the estate and empowering him to appoint an auctioneer.

While he would re-list the matter before the court next June to inject “some impetus” into the sale process, he was not ordering the house must be sold by then. He encouraged the aunt to “keep an eye” on how matters proceed in a bid to ensure the sale process is as efficient/effective as possible.

Addressing the children’s father, the judge said it was clear he genuinely wants to maximise the children’s inheritance and had concerns about the administration to date of the estate.

For as long as the administration continues, its costs will rise, reducing the children’s inheritance so it is in their interests the house is sold as efficiently as possibe, the assets distrtibuted and the administration finalised, he said.

While the man had made some effort to sell the house, the court had concluded the efficiency of the sales process will improve if the estate solicitor is given exclusive carriage of that and empowered to appoint an auctioner.

Noting the man’s claims concerning administration of the estate, the judge told him, if he or his children considered they had suffered one or more legal wrongs, they must seek appropriate legal redress.

It was “a waste of the children’s inheritance for you and/or them to prolong matters as this application has been prolonged by raising concerns that do not fall to be decided in the context of this application”, he said.

He stressed he was making no observations/findings as to whether any or all of the grievances the man aired during were well-founded or not. Any future proceedings concerning those matters would involve costs risks and the children may decide their inheritance would otherwise be better spent, he added.

The judge, who earlier noted the man’s claims against the solicitor administering the estate effectively amounted to a claim of “looting” the estate, stressed he was making no finding against the solicitor and could not see why he ought not to have exclusive carriage of the sale of the family home.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times