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Case Note: Quinn v Irish Bank Resolution Corporation

Quinn v Irish Bank Resolution Corporation [2019] IEHC 181

On Wednesday 27 March, Mr Justice Garrett Simons refused an application by the five children of Sean Quinn to amend their Statement of Claim and to file supplementary written statements. The case as constituted at the time involved a claim of undue influence in respect of the procurement of guarantees for loans advanced to their father.

The application before the court on this occasion would have enabled the plaintiffs to include an express plea that the alleged undue influence was carried out by Mr Sean Quinn Snr. To this end, the plaintiffs sought to have certain transactions with Anglo Irish Bank - now the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation - set aside. 

The defendants sought to resist what they said was an 'impermissible attempt by the Plaintiffs to change the nature of the case at the thirteenth hour' at a very late stage, over seven years since proceedings were first issued.

The plaintiffs sought to avoid these transactions on the grounds that they were improvident and unconscionable on account of the presence of undue influence. Their Statement of Claim reads:

'91. The Plaintiffs took no active role in any matter relating to Anglo lending and were effectively dictated to in relation to such lending pursuant to which the personal guarantees and share pledges were required by Anglo.'

Key to their initial claim was the fact that no independent legal advice was received, which is a core identifier of the presence of undue influence in this jurisdiction since Ulster Bank v Roche. It was also submitted that:

'While the Plaintiffs had a limited appreciation from general family discussions that certain assets would be put into their own names, they were not informed, nor did they have any, or any proper, realisation or understanding that in executing security required of them by Anglo, they could be exposing themselves to significant financial liabilities, or that they would be putting their own asset position at risk.'

As stated above, the original position as laid out by the plaintiffs in their statement of claim and in their replies to particulars was that the undue influence had been exerted by bank officials. This position was abandoned in the opening remarks given by counsel for the plaintiffs, and was not submitted that the undue influence was exerted by the plaintiffs' father.

 

Decision:

Mr Justice Simons' refusal to allow the plaintiffs to amend their Statement of Claim was quite emphatic. He notes at para 34:

'With respect, any argument that the case as currently formulated includes a claim of undue influence against Sean Quinn Snr is untenable. Such a claim would be wholly inconsistent with the pleadings to date... the Plaintiffs were unequivocal in stating that the entity against whom the allegation of undue influence was being made was Anglo. 

He then goes on to conclude on this point at para 40:

'In conclusion, the proposed reformulation of the case so as to include an allegation of undue influence against Sean Quinn Snr is not merely a matter of detail or a shift in emphasis. Rather, it amounts to the introduction of an entirely new claim and the identification of Mr Quinn as a principal wrongdoer. This radical change is combined with the jettisoning of the previous claim that it was the officials of the Bank who exerted undue influence. This is such a vastly different case that there is no realistic basis for saying that it was implicit or latent in the existing proceedings. It is simply not there.'

Read the judgment in full here.

 

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