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Archive for June 16th, 2011

Short answer is we don’t know but the Irish Independent is today reporting that “it is understood that a small number [of Irish judges] are to [sic] trying to prevent loans being transferred to NAMA”. The Independent’s story is really focusing on Irish judges’ salaries and pensions, and the proposal to hold a referendum to reduce same, but the reference to NAMA is interesting. A long established principle is that a judge would resile him-, or herself from any proceedings in which their judgment might actually be, or perceived to be, compromised. And it would seem that if certain judges have been dabbling in the land and development game, and had borrowed heavily to fund their (ad)ventures then those judges might well be compromised in some of the many property-related proceedings that have flooded the Irish judicial system in recent times.

To become eligible for NAMA, one must have been a borrower from one of the five NAMA Participating Institutions (AIB, Anglo, Bank of Ireland, EBS and INBS), have had loans for “land and development” and have exposures that exceed a certain threshold (zero for Anglo, EBS and INBS and currently €20m for AIB and Bank of Ireland). It is indeed sobering to think that some in our judiciary might have loans of over €20m but on the other hand they may simply have borrowed thousands, or have loans that might not be considered significant.

NAMA does not ordinarily reveal the names of borrowers, citing commercial confidentiality and, in addition, certain provisions of the NAMA Act. The incoming Government has committed to creating a public register of loans in default in NAMA and there are moves afoot to bring NAMA within the ambit of the Freedom of Information Act. The public register would probably be the most promising way of establishing NAMA’s borrowers, or at least the subset that was in default (which from the most recent NAMA quarterly reporting is the majority of NAMA borrowers). So might we soon see a list of judges in default on their loans? And if we do, will there be a mad dash by the legal fraternity, and others, to see what cases they presided over in recent times? Aaah, for the good old days when a judge’s dalliance outside wedlock was the greatest scandal that might beset them…

UPDATE: 27th July, 2011. The Irish Independent (again) pulls at this thread and reports that “up to 10 judges” face financial ruin. The reporting is a little confused with claims in one part of the article that property and shares have dived in value which gives rise to the pending ruination. Elsewhere it is claimed that proposed changes to pay and pensions are at the root of the judges’ woes.  There is very little by way of sources for the reporting – “the Irish Independent has learned”, “financial experts”, “informed sources” is the best the Independent can offer. Elsewhere the article claims that Irish judges are the best rewarded in Europe.

 

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