Two founders of Bula Mines declared bankrupt

By Ann O'Loughlin

The High Court has declared two of the founders of the collapsed Bula Mines company bankrupt over non payment of a €4.8m legal costs debt.

Mr Justice Charles Meenan said Michael Wymes and Richard Wood must each be adjudicated bankrupt.

The two, along with Tom Roche senior established Bula in 1971 to buy a zinc and lead mine near Navan, Co Meath but it collapsed with substantial debts some years later. The State was a shareholder in the company.

Protracted litigation followed the collapse.

In July 2003, costs of the litigation, after taxation, were issued for €3.29m, which together with interest amounted to some €4.8m.

The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources set about recovering that money and in 2010 issued bankruptcy proceedings against Mr Wymes and Mr Wood.

Further litigation followed in which Mr Wymes sought to dismiss the bankruptcy summons. This was dismissed by the High Court and also by the Supreme Court.

As a result of those proceedings, the petition to have the men declared bankrupt was put on hold but was renewed in January of this year.

Mr Wymes appeared in person to oppose the petition while Mr Wood, who was represented, also did not consent to the orders being sought.

In his judgment adjudicating them bankrupt, Mr Justice Meenan said it was clear a number of the grounds Mr Wymes relied on in the previous High and Supreme Court hearings were also being relied on in this case.

The judge said that when considering the defences raised by Mr Wymes the court "cannot allow him to either re-litigate issues that have already been decided or to raise issues that ought to have been raised" in previous proceedings.

In the judge's view, having analysed the defences put forward, no grounds had been advanced to invoke the inherent jurisdiction of the court to place a stay on these bankruptcy proceedings.

The Minister was entitled to the reliefs he sought and the debtors, Mr Wymes and Mr Wood, must each be adjudicated bankrupt, he said.

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