Court Win for Borrowers
An important decision was reached by the High Court in Dublin yesterday, which ruled that borrowers are now entitled to a court hearing before a bank can be granted an application:
The Civil Court of Appeal made an important ruling yesterday that could be very important to anyone being pursued for a debt by a bank.
Yesterday’s ruling states those in debt are entitled to be properly heard by the courts before applications can be granted in favour of a bank.
The case in court yesterday was related to a ruling in the High Court last November in which an elderly couple were ordered to pay Ulster Bank €125,000 on foot of a compromise agreement. The application was made by the bank to enforce the agreement.
Counsel for the couple, Venetia Taylor BL, asked the High Court for a brief adjournment so the couple could put forward evidence disputing the entitlement of the bank to obtain judgement.
High Court ruling
The High Court declined to grant the adjournment and then awarded judgement against them on the basis that it had no evidence to persuade it to do otherwise.
The couple appealed the decision to the Court of Appeal.
Counsel defending the couple relied on Irish and European case law, which indicated the right to be heard was a fundamental legal principle and that the High Court order should be set aside because it had not been properly respected.
Counsel for the bank, Desmond O’Neil SC argued that the terms of the agreement spoke for itself and the High Court was correct in making the order against the couple.
The Court of Appeal, presided over by Ms Justice Finlay Geoghegan
and Mr Justice Peart, agreed with the arguments of Ms Taylor BL and set aside the High Court order.
The implication of the judgment is that a person who is being pursued by a bank for a debt in the courts is entitled to make full representations to the court before an award can be made in favour of the bank.
For anyone being pursued by a creditor, such as a bank, the judgment shows that they would have a right to put their side of the story before the court hearing the matter, so that the court can decide whether or not to grant judgment against them.
This is significant in the current climate where many people find themselves pursued by banks for failure to pay mortgages or to discharge credit card debts.
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