No further news on the curious events last month, when Ulster Bank obtained approval from the High Court in Dublin to serve Sean Dunne with bankruptcy proceedings over a €164m judgment, but at the time, there was speculation that the move might have been related to an ongoing legal battle between Gayle Dunne and Ulster Bank over an unpaid bill for hotel repairs. Gayle’s company, Mavior is suing a company established by Ulster Bank called Zerko Limited for €1m in respect of repairs and refurbishment of her husband’s Ballsbridge hotels after the severe flooding in late 2011. Zerko Limited is refusing to pay.
A preliminary issue has been before the courts for some time, and that is whether Mavior which is an unlimited company which doesn’t file public accounts, is capable of funding its legal case and Zerko demanded security for costs, in other words, for a sum of money to be paid into court to cover Zerko’s costs in the event that it won. Gayle’s Mavior was resisting the demand. Last year, the High Court held that poverty should not be a barrier to a company taking legal action and dismissed Zerko’s demand. Zerko appealed to the Supreme Court and this week, the Supreme Court supported the High Court judgment when it, too, ruled that Mavior does not have to provide security of costs in this case.
The judgment was delivered on 13th March 2013 and is available here. Judges Denham, Clarke and MacMenamin focused on whether Gayle’s Mavior was what is called a “nominal plaintiff”, which if established, may have led the judges to overturn the High Court decision and impose an order for costs in advance of the full hearing. A “nominal plaintiff” is a plaintiff who is really acting on behalf of another party, but in this case the judges didn’t accept that Mavior was such a plaintiff.
So, now Zerko faces a full hearing at the High Court over the matter at the root of the case, the unpaid €1m bill. And should Zerko win, it faces an uncertain prospect of getting its costs. So, a small victory for Gayle Dunne but she still has to pursue the €1m unpaid bill.
And what is going on with those Ulster Bank bankruptcy proceedings?