When it comes to reporting NAMA initiating legal action, this blog really falls down because NAMA refuses to comment on individual actions and its silence even extends to fully identifying the respondent and the Courts Service website just shows the most basic of details. If the respondent is a limited company then you can more or less identify the respondent though there is always the risk that the company may be a foreign-registered company which just happens to share the same name with an entirely-separate Irish-registered company. But in the case of respondents being individuals, it can get very difficult indeed. Today we learn that NAMA is suing an individual whose name is “David Cullen” – a search of Irish directors of companies reveals there are plenty of different David Cullens and more than one is a director of property companies. But there are David Cullens who work for banks and even firms of solicitors!
So all that can be reported here now, is NAMA yesterday initiated an application in Dublin’s High Court with a reference of 2012/2012/3733 S and the respondent is David Cullen and as is usual with recently-filed cases there is no solicitor on record for the respondent. The applicant is National Asset Loan Management Limited which is represented by solicitors Eugene F Collins.
In the past, NAMA has taken legal action against individuals to enforce personal guarantees or to secure personal judgments, but it should be stressed that we do not know if either of these objectives lies behind the current application. NAMA generally doesn’t comment on individual legal cases.
So far this year, NAMA has launched 31 separate actions in Dublin’s High Court and has been on the receiving end of six.
UPDATE (1): 14th January 2013. The above case came before Judge Peter Kelly at the Commercial Court division of the High Court today. It seems that NAMA is seeking a €29m judgment against David Cullen who is described as a Dublin businessman with addresses at Claremont Road Dublin 18 and Kelvin Court, Kensington Park Road in Notting Hill, London. It is reported by RTE that NAMA expressed concern over the transfer of 40 properties to David’s wife and others. The upshot of this morning’s hearing is that David has been given more time – how much is not specified in the report – to produce a defence, but it seems that he will be challenging the jurisdiction of the court and delays in bringing the proceedings. Judge Kelly didn’t seem enamoured with the jurisdiction challenge, and it seems NAMA will be robustly resisting the defence on the grounds of delay. RTE reports Judge Kelly noting “the current case pre-dated bankruptcy proceedings which began in the UK earlier this month” – this is presumably a reference to a UK bankruptcy for David, but as of today there is no record of a bankruptcy order being obtained by David in the UK. Maurice Collins SC appeared as barrister for NAMA, and Martin Hayden SC appeared for David. “The case continues”, as they say.
UPDATE (2): 14th January 2013. The Irish Examiner reports that the “David Cullen” being sued is the well-known pub owner. The debt that NAMA is pursuing, said to be €28m by the Examiner in contrast to the €29m above, is reported to be related to the development of the Turks Head bar in Temple Bar in Dublin city centre and the Paramount Hotel which sits on top of it, and an unnamed development in county Wexford. This indicates that the NAMA receivership in November 2012 of Dublin Taverns Limited is also this “David Cullen”‘ ‘s company.
UPDATE (3): 14th January 2013. You’d wonder what’s left for the newspapers to report tomorrow! The Independent reports that the case has been adjouned to 23rd January 2012, Wednesday week, so there doesn’t appear to be much time for David to prepare a defence. The loans were originally advanced to David in 2002 by Bank of Ireland, and were transferred to NAMA in 2010. The Independent indicates the Wexford development – unnamed in the Examiner report above – was “Seafield Hotel and apartments at Seafield, Ballymoney, Co Wexford” A new dimension to the putting-assets-beyond-reach-of-NAMA meme is the allegation that leases were created by David in the Temple Bar properties and the Seafield hotel, without the consent of the bank/NAMA – on the face of it, this would lead to a diminution of value in those properties. Apparently the UK bankruptcy hearing is scheduled for May 2013. There also seems to be a dispute about whether NAMA has security over certain assets.
UPDATE: 24th January, 2012. The case returned to the High Court yesterday where Mr Justice Peter Kelly gave short shrift to David Cullen’s defence and the case has now been transferred to the Commercial Court division of the High Court for fast track processing. The Judge rejected the defence that Irish courts did not have jurisdiction over the loans and the case, as David was now resident in London, and also rejected the defence that NAMA was out of time or had delayed its case. Judge Kelly said the opposite – that NAMA would have been exposed to complaint if it had acted sooner, because it was previously examining David’s business plan. Lastly, David sought to resist the action on the basis that the loans were not for development within the meaning of the NAMA Act, but the Judge said this was a matter that could be argued at the substantive hearing in the Commercial Court. Short shrift. There looks like syndicated reporting of proceedings today in the Irish Examiner here and Irish Independent here.