Master strikes out case brought by AIB against struck-off solicitor
Edmond Honohan says attempt by bank to obtain €2m in compensation ‘has fallen flat on its face’
Edmond Honohan told counsel for AIB that he was offering them “a great way out here by striking out the summonses”.
Edmond Honohan – who recently sought to have affidavits sworn by AIB officials in the case referred to the DPP for alleged perjury – said he believed AIB was engaged in an attempt to obtain €2 million in insurance compensation against a company which may or may not have provided professional cover for now struck-off solicitor Angela Farrell, Dublin. The attempt “has fallen flat on its face”, he said.
AIB last month obtained a High Court injunction preventing the master from referring papers in the case to the DPP. One of the master’s functions is to make sure papers in cases on their way to full hearing in the High Court are in order.
Mr Honohan yesterday refused an application from Niall Ó hUiginn, for AIB and AIB Mortgage Bank, to send special summonses in the Farrell case for hearing in the High Court list after Mr Ó hUiginn argued everything was in order. Mr Honohan said he had a duty not only to ensure papers in a case were ready but that a prima facie case of perjury was brought to the attention of the authorities.
“I am going to be very nice to the bank and offer them a great way out here by striking out the summonses and I think they should be very careful as to where it goes from here.”.
Earlier, Mr Honohan invited Mr Ó hUiginn to withdraw its claims alleging the master had no power under court rules to inquire into substantive merits of affidavits before him. When Mr Ó hUiginn told the master his instructions were to proceed with the case, Mr Honohan said he had to consider whether the case against Ms Farrell was moot, or pointless, given she was no longer a solicitor and had also been declared a bankrupt. Mr Ó hUiginn said Ms Farrell was a solicitor when AIB issued proceedings against her and she may have insurance in place. The bank may get the services of another solicitor to deal with the undertakings but these issues would be for a hearing in the High Court to deal with, he said.
Mr Honohan asked Mr Ó hUiginn to read out affidavits sworn by two AIB officials which, he said, showed prima facie evidence of perjury, which both officials strongly denied that and Mr Ó hUiginn said what the master said was improper.
As Mr Ó hUiginn read affidavits of the first official, Lynn Hogan of AIB Financial Services, Mr Honohan said they did not comply with court rules as they did not contain Ms Hogan’s “place of abode” and gardaí would have difficulty finding her (for an alleged perjury investigation).
Mr Ó hUiginn said there was discretion not to include a home address.
There was a clear prima facie case for perjury because Ms Hogan’s first affidavit said nothing had been done by Ms Farrell in relation to six legal undertakings, when a later affidavit stated there were only three undertakings outstanding. There may have been “some unseen hand” at work in the first affidavit but this was a “180 degree turn”, Mr Honahan said.
Mr Honohan said the bank had failed to mitigate its loss and was effectively involved in “unjust enrichment” because it had not stated whether it was in a position to enforce security over the mortgages of the borrowers Ms Farrell was acting for.
In relation to affidavits sworn by the second AIB official, Jim O’Keeffe, managing director of AIB Mortgage Bank, he said these also showed a prima facie case for perjury. That was also denied by Mr Ó hUiginn.
Ms Farrell, in asking the master to adjourn AIB’s application to transfer the matter to the judges’ list, said AIB’s action against her was unfair and the papers in it were not ready. The “underlying text” of this application “is one of intent to defraud me”. She also claimed the bankruptcy order made against her was invalid and she had been disabled by not having access to papers to fight her case since she was struck off as a solicitor.
Mr Ó hUiginn said the fraud allegation was untrue and this was simply a case about her failure to comply with undertakings.