Nama gets €8m judgment against wife of Thomas McFeely

Agency takes case over unpaid loan secured on Priory Hall developer’s Ballsbridge home

The  former home of property developer Tom McFeely at Coolbawn, Ailesbury Road,  Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.  File Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

The former home of property developer Tom McFeely at Coolbawn, Ailesbury Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. File Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

 

Nama has secured final judgment for €8m against the wife of Priory Hall builder Thomas McFeely arising out of an unpaid loan secured on the family home at Ailesbury Road, Dublin.

Nina Lynn Kessler, otherwise known as Nina McFeely, had opposed the Nama application claiming, among other things, she did not have independent legal advice when taking out the loan.

At the High Court, Ms Justice Iseult O’Malley ruled the matter was the subject of previous court proceedings and the objections raised by Ms Kessler, including the issue of legal advice, had not been raised.

“It is too late to do so now,” the judge said.

A loan for €9.5m was taken out by the couple from the former Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS) in December 2006, the court heard.

Ms Kessler told the court INBS had told her this was a personal loan to discharge existing mortgages on their home. It was to be repaid from income from the development of Priory Hall in Donaghmede, Dublin, whose residents had to move out because of fire safety deficiencies in the building.

She said she believed it was a business loan and her husband told her there would be no risk to her.

In her judgment, Mr Justice O’Malley said interest payments on the loan went into arrears and the capital was not repaid.

In January 2012, by which time Nama had taken over the former INBS loan, it had risen to €10.6m. Nama sought an order for possession of the house and in November 2012, the High Court dismissed an appeal against possession.

The house was sold for €2.6m in May 2013 and Nama then sought judgment against Ms Kessler for the balance still owed on the loan, €8m. Mr McFeely had earlier, in July 2012, been adjudicated bankrupt.

In opposing the Nama judgment application, and seeking a full hearing of the matters, Ms Kessler said apart from not having independent legal advice, INBS made certain representations to her as to the purpose of the loan and how it would be repaid, the judge said.

Nama disputed her claims and said she could not be permitted to raise issues in circumstances where the courts had already determined that the debt she owes was well charged on the family home and that an order for possession had been granted.

Ms Justice O’Malley said that in her evidence, Ms Kessler had said she never received any money out of the loan agreement and her husband informed her he did not receive any money either.

Ms Kessler believed she had a good defence to the summary judgment claim, the judge said. She argued she did not have any liability because Nama was in breach of the terms of the loan by failing to redeem the mortgages on the family home and relying on payments from sales of Priory Hall as well as from her husband’s other business projects.

The judge also said Ms Kessler argued she had little knowledge of her husband’s affairs and felt under pressure to sign the loan agreement.

Ms Justice O’Malley said if there had been any genuine dispute as to Ms Kessler’s liability for the loan, whether because of non-receipt of the loan monies, misrepresentations by INBS, or lack of independent legal advice, it was entirely reasonable to expect these issues would have been raised in the earlier proceedings.

The house was subject to a mortgage in any event and it is manifest from subsequent events, including the bankruptcy of her husband, that the mortgage would not have been repaid, she said.