Judge told Commercial Court that ‘all roads lead to Anglo’

Developers, bankers and politicians have featured on Commercial Court list

Mr Justice Peter Charleton: awarded €2.1 million to a “very vulnerable” man against stockbroking firm Davy

Mr Justice Peter Charleton: awarded €2.1 million to a “very vulnerable” man against stockbroking firm Davy

 

Well-known developers Seán Dunne, Bernard McNamara, Paddy Kelly, Liam Carroll, Harry Crosbie, Jim Mansfield, and brothers Ray and Danny Grehan have all featured in the Commercial Court list.

Defendant bankers include former Anglo CEO David Drumm, Anglo head of lending Tom Browne, and INBS chair Michael Fingleton.

Government Ministers James Reilly and John Perry, Fianna Fáil councillor Gerard Killally and Independent TD Mick Wallace have featured among political defendants.

Other household names pursued over loans included car dealer Bill Cullen and former All-Ireland champion hurler DJ Carey.

 

Male-dominated

While well-known businesswoman Sarah Newman was among a small number of women sued for judgment orders, the commercial list remains heavily male-dominated.

 

“All roads lead to Anglo,” Mr Justice Peter Kelly once remarked when dealing with yet another action involving the collapsed and now-State owned bank.

His comment was among many memorable reflections from Commercial Court judges often summarising financial events and trends outside court.

In a characteristically frank judgment this year, Mr Justice Peter Charleton said it was clear from multiple cases Anglo led a charge which “spooked other banks” into “ill-considered lending”, exacerbating the property overvaluation that “crashed like a giant wave” on the Irish taxpayer from September 2008, resulting in “social anguish”.

On another occasion, after noting many loans appeared to have been advanced to people without any ability to repay should property prices fall, Mr Justice Kelly wondered what had happened to the “three Cs” – capital, collateral and character – once insisted upon by prudent bank managers when considering eligibility for bank loans.

“I never cease to be amazed at the shoddy way business is transacted in this country,” he said.

 

Most dishonest

In May 2008, the judge described a multimillion land deal in Co Offaly, where €7million lent by a bank had gone missing as the “most dishonest transaction” he ever encountered.

 

In July 2008, the judge voiced concern about an increasing number of cases involving solicitors dishonouring their undertakings to ensure financial institutions had good security for loans advanced.

That same month he described as “extraordinary” a contract where a €19 million sale of lands in Dublin was secured on a €100 deposit.

Just months later he noted the court was being “littered” with claims for specific performance of contracts, including for land sales for development.

Up to 2007 purchasers were trying to get sellers to honour contracts for apparently lucrative land deals but all changed utterly after that with desperate sellers suing in an effort to tie down buyers as land prices collapsed.

In a landmark decision last April with significant implications for duties owed by stockbrokers to clients, Mr Justice Charleton awarded €2.1 million to a “very vulnerable” man against stockbroking firm Davy over its “deliberate neglect” of him.

The judge found breaches of contract and duty of care by Davy in encouraging the man to invest €1.75 million of his €5 million inheritance in contracts for difference.

No reasonable stockbroker would have allowed him into that kind of trading, the judge said.

*This article was edited on February 9th, 2015