By Colin Ryan
On Wednesday December 10th DDI’s Ben Gilroy won yet another legal argument in the High Court that could help many litigants fighting banks’ receivers.
While everyone was preparing for the mass water protest in Dublin Ben had to delay joining the march while he was advocating on behalf of a lay litigant who was facing the loss of his business to Ulster Bank; a business that included a pub in Leinster that had been in his family for over 200 years.
Ulster Bank appointed joint receivers Kieran Wallace and Mark Ethering of KPMG to the customer’s properties, who in turn instigated the process of selling the property despite the customer’s willingness to come to agreement with the bank. In court the defendant brought a motion to stop the sales.
Ben Gilroy argued that there was “no express power of sale within the mortgage contracts”, and hence the receivers had no right to sell the properties. Judge Gilligan agreed and ordered that KPMG must stop selling the properties and remove all advertisement for the sale.
Some members of the legal profession have in the past written articles, designed to protect their position, vilifying Ben and others like him for “…doing more harm than good…” for lay litigants. However, it is notable that before the client came to Ben for help he had employed legal representation who had failed to pick up on this problem with the mortgage documents. Ben says that “…it’s not rocket science, the devil in in the detail”.
Without this intervention the properties would have been sold. Now this has been stopped Ben is hopeful that it will force the bank into negotiating an amicable resolution where all parties will be happy. The owner can now rest peacefully over Christmas that his family business and home are safe for the immediate future.
The questions raised by this are serious. Both Ulster Bank and KPMG were attempting to take properties from an owner and sell them in full knowledge that they did not have the legal right to do so. They have simply relied on the owners ignorance of law and contract, and yet to date this has not been an issue for the courts.
It follows that there must be many other Ulster Bank mortgage holders with similar contracts, both past and present. These people need to check their mortgage documents to see if the same illegal sale is being imposed upon them, or has already happened and could be appealed.
This is yet another legal revelation brought to light by DDI’s Ben Gilroy, and it highlights one more aspect of the institutionalised misrepresentation that has been rife throughout our financial services industry, and their continued misuse of the courts.
We hope that many other people can benefit from this precedent to force banks to deal respectfully and honourably with customers for long term mutually beneficial arrangements, instead of trying to cash in on the quick sale of their property, their life’s work and their livelihoods.
There are many people in politics who make statements on how the government should do something for the people instead of the banks, or to stop the impending homeless crisis. but fewer still who connect this to the tragedy of the 50,000 families being brought to court for possession orders by the banks over the next 12 months.
Yes, there are lots of speeches and press statements and interviews designed to sound well meaning and hoover up the votes of the disenfranchised, but there is little action. In the end the years go by and the banks continue to dispossess more and more people, and these statements do nothing but make hollow echos for the victims.
Ben Gilroy and the sadly too few others like him are the only ones out there really making a difference, fighting this in the only place it can be stopped right now. They are helping lay litigants on a daily basis to find ways of stopping banks, and keeping people in their homes and businesses; using the laws that the banks have broken to force them into deals.
We would ask you all, where are all the other politicians in this respect?