Judge warns of dangers of taking legal advice from unqualified people

Fund-appointed receiver granted possession in Waterford commercial property case

The judge put a stay of one month on the order to allow the occupants time to find premises. Photograph: Chris Maddaloni/Collins

The judge put a stay of one month on the order to allow the occupants time to find premises. Photograph: Chris Maddaloni/Collins

 

A High Court judge has warned of the consequences of taking bad advice from people with no legal qualifications.

Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds made the remarks when granting a fund-appointed receiver possession of a commercial property at Six Cross Roads in Co Waterford. A stay applies for one month on the possession order.

The judge said parties in the case who had no lawyers representing them and had been badly advised by people with no legal qualifications would ultimately have to bear the large legal costs of any failed applications.

The action was brought against the owners of the property: Paddy Early, Killea, Dunmore East, Co Waterford; and Paul Kearney, Islandtarsney, Fenor, Co Waterford.

The action was also brought against Eamon O’Neill, The Quays, Waterford, whom the court heard acted as a business consultant for the owners, and CMD Early Dunmore East Ltd, a company of Roundabout Centre, Six Cross Roads, Co Waterford, which it was alleged had an agreement with the owners to occupy the premises.

The order for possession was sought by Ken Fennell, as receiver appointed over the property.

It was claimed Mr Early and Mr Kearney were advanced some €2.29 million by Ulster Bank in 2008 for which the Six Cross Roads Property was put up as security.

It was claimed the loan fell into arrears in 2011.

Promontoria Aran Ltd acquired the loan in 2015 and it appointed Mr Fennell as receiver over the Six Cross Roads property in 2016.

No right

Mr Fennell claimed he got possession of, and has sold, two other properties of Mr Early and Kearney but was unable to obtain possession of the Six Cross Roads property and brought proceedings aimed at securing possession of the premises.

In seeking vacant possession orders, Mr Fennell claimed the defendants had no right to be on the premises.

The defendants had opposed the application and rejected the receiver’s claims.

The matter was before the court and adjourned on a number of previous occasions, most recently to allow the defendants to get lawyers to represent them.

On Thursday, Ms Justice Reynolds, having ruled the defendants had no legal defence to the receiver’s claim, made orders granting Mr Fennell, represented by Brian Conroy BL, possession of the premises.

The judge told the owners that they had been badly advised by Mr O’Neill.

In reply, both owners said they had tried, but were unable, to get a lawyer to represent them.

Judges’ concerns

The judge also raised concerns over legal submissions offered to the court in respect of the dispute.

Mr Early told the court those submissions had been put together after he was in contact with a named man who is prohibited by the High Court from acting as a legal adviser.

The judge also said that a letter sent by Mr O’Neill to various parties, including the gardaí, was “scurrilous” and contained averments about what had occurred in court that were “simply not true”.

When the matter is next before the court, the judge said she expected Mr O’Neill to have a legal representative to answer what she said was his alleged contempt.

Mr O’Neill apologised to the court for what was contained in the letter.

The judge put a stay of one month on the order to allow the occupants time to find premises and adjourned the matter to next month.