Seán Dunne challenges seizure of items from Kildare property

Documents and paintings believed to have been removed by bankruptcy official

Bankrupt developer Sean Dunne has initiated a legal challenge over the seizure of documents and other material, believed to include a number of paintings, from a luxury property in Co Kildare by the official administering his bankruptcy.

Among the property Mr Dunne wants to recover are documents related to matrimonial proceedings, Mr Justice John Cooke was told today in the High Court by the businessman's counsel, Bill Shipsey SC.

Ellen Gleeson BL said she was representing a number of parties who had an interest in the property, including an Isle of Man registered company, Traviata Ltd; Mrs Gayle Dunne and a girlfriend of John Dunne, son of Mr Dunne.

The application arises from an ex parte order (one side only represented) made at an in camera (private) hearing last week. That order, made by Mr Justice Cooke, allowed agents for the Official Assignee, Chris Lehane, enter a property in Straffan and seize goods there.


The order was made under Section 28 of the Bankruptcy Act. That provision allows for a search and seizure warrant to be issued where the Official Assignee has reason to believe property of a bankrupt may be located in a house or other premises which may not be owned by the bankrupt themselves.

Today, Mr Shipsey said Mr Dunne - now living in Connecticut, US - wanted liberty to serve short notice on the Official Assignee of the proceedings over the contents seizure.

Mr Justice Cooke granted liberty to serve short notice and returned the matter to Monday next.

Separately, Mr Justice Brian McGovern is expected to rule later this week on Mr Dunne's bid to overturn his Irish bankruptcy. Ulster Bank and the National Assets Management Agency have opposed that application.

The Irish bankruptcy proceedings were initiated by Ulster Bank in February over default on loans for some €161m issued to buy properties in Dublin. Mr Dunne filed for bankruptcy in the US the following month when he claimed to have debts of $1bn and assets of $55m.

Following a later application by Ulster Bank, the US court appointed trustee managing Mr Dunne's US bankruptcy ruled parallel proceedings would benefit Mr Dunne's creditors as the vast majority of his properties are in Ireland.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times