O’Donnell to call banking experts for bankruptcy challenge

‘Two weeks to go through two feet thick of documents is not reasonable,’ says Brian O’Donnell

An attempt by solicitor Brian O'Donnell and his wife Mary Patricia to have their bankruptcy annulled will be heard by the High Court later this month.

In court on Monday, Mr O'Donnell sought more time to prepare for the hearing, listed for March 26th, as he needed to respond to a sworn statement to the court from Bank of Ireland, which he had not received as of last Friday.

While the bank had a large team of lawyers at its disposal, Mr O’Donnell said he had only himself and his son Blake to deal with this and a number of other matters before the courts.

“Two weeks to go through two feet thick of documents is not reasonable,” he said.

Mr O’Donnell also said he would be bringing in expert witnesses on banking relation and licensing of banks as part of his challenge seeking to set aside the bankruptcy.

Ms Justice Caroline Costello said Mr O'Donnell and his wife had made "very serious, sweeping" and "very grave" accusations and it was to be expected that the bank required time to consider them thoroughly.

Mark Sanfey SC, for Bank of Ireland, said it had prepared a "relatively short" 20-age affidavit and said it was "extraordinary" that Mr O'Donnell was seeking more time.

Mr Sanfey said that when the motions came to hearing, the bank would argue that the case should be struck out on the basis that it was unstateable.

He said all the matters raised by Mr O'Donnell were fully dealt with in decisions of the High Court and Supreme Court.

Mr O’Donnell and Dr Mary Patricia O’Donnell were adjudicated bankrupt by the High Court in August of 2013 on the petition of Bank of Ireland after they failed to satisfy a judgment for €71.57 million.

That judgment was obtained by the bank in December 2011 after they failed to repay loans advanced by the bank.

The couple, who had extensive property interests in Ireland and overseas, opposed BoI’s application on grounds including that Ireland was not their main centre of interests.

Last month, a five-judge Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the O'Donnells' claim that the High Court was wrong in finding their centre of main business interest was Ireland rather than England at the time of their bankruptcy.

Previously, Mr O’Donnell has told the High Court he would seek to have that bankruptcy adjudication annulled on grounds including that the loans at issue were provided by Bank of Ireland Private Banking which, he alleges, has no banking licence.

Ms Justice Costello said the hearing would remain listed for March 26th but that it would also be mentioned in court on March 23rd.