Bank granted €18.5m judgement against church trustees

Irish Times Tuesday December, 3 2013.

Judge rules Bank of Scotland entitled to funds

advanced to Victory Christian Fellowship Highcourt image

Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

The High Court has ruled Bank of Scotland is entitled to a judgment of €18.5 million against the trustees of a non-denominational church- the Victory Christian Fellowship-arising from loans advanced for the construction of a new church.

Court Reporter: Aodhan O’Faolain

The High Court has ruled Bank of Scotland (BOS,) is entitled to judgment of €18.5m against the trustees of a non-denominational church- the Victory Christian Fellowship-arising from loans advanced for the construction of a new church.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan, yesterday said BOS is entitled to judgment against
the Felllowship’s trustees Brendan Hade, the church’s senior pastor his wife
Shelia Hade Fountain Head, Rockbrook, Rathfarnham Dublin and Gerry Byrne of Woodstown, Knocklyon, Dublin.

The judge also ruled BOS, and joint receivers it appointed over three of the
Fellowship’s Dublin premises, are also entitled to permanent injunctions
restraining the trustees and others from obstructing or interfering with
the receivers taking possession of properties.

The three properties are located at Kilmacud House, Kilmacud Road,
Upper Stillorgan; Westland Row and Firhouse Road, Tallaght.
They were put up as security for monies advanced by BOS in 2007.

The loans were advanced so the Fellowship could move from its base at
Westland Row to a bigger premises at Firhouse, where a new church- the
Victory Centre- was constructed. The property at Kilmacud is used as a
direct provision centre for asylum seekers in Ireland.

In its action Bank of Scotland, represented by Rossa Fanning Bl. said it was entitled to judgment, and the bank had valid security over the properties.
It was fully entitled to appoint receivers, chartered accountants Paul McCann and Patrick Dillon over the three properties last May.

BOS rejected the trustees claims it had breached an agreement in regards to a strategy to deal with the Fellowship’s debt to the bank.  There was no reasonable possibility of the trustees obtaining alternative finance within any reasonable period of time, which was a required element of any agreement between the parties, BOS said.

In a defence and counterclaim the trustees, who accepted the monies are due.claimed they had agreed in late 2012 with BOS to resolve the dispute over the unpaid loans. However they claimed the agreement was breached by the premature appointment of receivers. They argued that last April, prior to a decision being taken to appoint the receivers, BOS was given information, from the Fellowship’s financial advisor, which advisor
was not sanctioned to give.

The information was disclosed to BOS before the parties had resolved or
concluded their differences with BOS and was a decisive reason for the
appointment of receivers.

This information included that Revenue had removed the Fellowship’s
charitable status and that allegedly fraudulent invoices were generated
in relation to the construction of the Victory Centre by a party connected to the trustees.

The Fellowship represented by Patrick O Reilly SC argued this confidential
information was wrongly disclosed to BOS, and that it amounted to a breach
of confidence by the financial advisor.

The trustees had denied the claims in respect of the invoices,
and argued the removal of the charitable status by revenue was under appeal.

In his ruling Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said the central issue in the case
was the dispute over the banks decision to appoint a receiver.

The Judge said the court was willing to accept BOS’s evidence that
primary reason behind the appointment of the receiver was the outstanding
arrears on the debt owed by the fellowship and the “lack of any progress
in relations to sourcing alternative finance”

BOS he said was increasingly frustrated by the existence of mounting arrears on the debt owed by the defendants. There was no realistic prospect of alternative financing being obtained.

The bank he said would have had to be informed about the removal of the
Fellowship’s charitable status.  The Judge said even if the alleged fraud was taken into account by the bank “it could have been only of minor importance.”

The judge also noted evidence from Mr Hade that no actual agreement
had been reached concerning the debt between BOS and the trustees.

The court was unable to conclude if there had been a breach of confidence by the Fellowships financial advisor, who the judge said was not a party or a witness at the proceedings. It was not possible to find the advisors behaviour by disclosing certain material to the Bank was unconscionable and in breach of duty.

The judge also made permanent injunction preventing the trustees from
interfering with the receivership or trespassing at the three properties, last May receivers obtained injunctions against the trustees over what they said was an organised campaign to prevent gaining access and taking possession of the premises. The receivers claimed those orders were ignored and the trustees and unnamed others prevented them gaining possession.

Arising out of the trustee’s alleged failure to comply or to appear at
court to deal with the allegations the High Court made orders directing
that the three be brought before the court over alleged contempt.
However the three later purged their contempt and gave undertaking
to abide by the terms of the injunctions.


3 Responses

  1. The house of cards has finally collasped or have the Hades and Gerry Byrne one last ace up their sleeves.? Its back to the drawing room for those lads. Good enough too! I believe there are two more court cases lined up against them in the very near future. Saints how are you.!


  2. Keep them honest!


  3. I was in the hostel for the non-nationals owned by the Hades. They profited off the misery of the homeless. Please explain to me how people knowing this can continue to defend them?


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