Judge gives warning over bad legal advice from non-qualified persons

Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds. Photo: Courtpix

A High Court judge has warned persons involved in litigation of the consequences of taking bad advice from those who are not qualified in the law.

Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds made the remarks when making orders in granting a fund-appointed receiver possession of a commercial property located at the Crossroads in Co Waterford.

The Judge said that parties in the case had no lawyers representing them, had been badly advised by persons with no legal qualifications, and would ultimately have to bear the large legal costs of any failed applications.

The action was brought against Paddy Early, Killea, Dunmore East, Co Waterford, Paul Kearney Islandtarsney, Fenor, Co Waterford, who are the owners of the property.

The action was also against Mr Eamon O Neill, the Quays, Waterford, who the court heard acted as a business consultant for the owners and, CMD Early Dunmore East Ltd, a company of Roundabout Centre, Six Cross Roads, Co Waterford, which it was alleged had an agreement with the owners to occupy the premises.

The order for possession was sought by Mr Ken Fennell who was appointed a receiver over the property

It was claimed that Mr Early and Mr Kearney were advanced €2.29m by Ulster Bank in 2008, for which the Crossroads Property was put up as security.

The loan fell into arrears in 2011 and Promontoria Aran Ltd acquired the loan in 2015. Mr Fennell was appointed a receiver over the property in 2016.

Mr Fennell claimed that he was able to obtain possession of and has sold two other properties of Mr Early and Kearney, he was unable to obtain possession of the Crossroads Property and brought proceedings aimed at securing possession of the premises.

The defendants, who it was claimed were in occupation of the premises, had no right to be there and were trespassing, Mr Fennell in his application for vacant possession claimed.

The defendants had opposed the application and had rejected the receiver's claims.

The matter had been before the court and adjourned on a number of previous occasions, most recently to allow the parties to obtain lawyers to represent them.

Today Ms Justice Reynolds, after being satisfied the defendants had no legal defence to the receiver's claim, made orders granting Mr Fennell possession of the premises.

The Judge told the owners that they had been badly advised.

In reply, both men said that they had tried, but were unable to get a lawyer to represent them.

The judge also raised concerns over legal submissions offered to the court in respect of the dispute which Mr Early told the court had been put together after he was in contact with a Mr William Murphy - who is prohibited by the High Court from acting as a legal advisor.

The Judge said that letter sent to various parties, including the Gardaí, by Mr O'Neill was "scurrilous" and contained averments about what had occurred in court that were simply not true.

The judge said when the matter returns before the court on the next occasion she expected Mr O'Neill to have a legal representative to answer what she said was his alleged contempt.

Mr O'Neill apologised to the court to the court for what was contained in the letter.

The judge then put a stay of one month on the order to allow the occupants time to find premises and adjourned the matter to a date in May.

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