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Jackie Lavin sues Bill Cullen over alleged €1m house purchase deal

The disagreement revolves around a €1-million deal for the sale of Killegy House in Co Kerry.

Jackie Lavin and Bill Cullen arriving at the Four Courts Dublin in November 2014.
Jackie Lavin and Bill Cullen arriving at the Four Courts Dublin in November 2014.
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

JACKIE LAVIN IS suing her long-time partner Bill Cullen and one of his companies over an alleged failure to complete a €1 million deal for the sale of Killegy House in Co Kerry to the businesswoman.

Jackie Lavin of Osberstown House, Naas, Co Kildare has brought proceedings against Glencullen Properties Ltd and Mr Cullen, also of Osberstown House, Naas who is the firm’s sole shareholder and a director of the company.

Ulster Bank appointed accountancy firm Kavanagh Fennell as receivers over the company’s assets including Killegy House, located at Muckross, Killarney, Co Kerry in 2012.

Lavin, represented by Patrick Leonard SC, claims she has been a longtime resident of Killegy House which she considers is her home. She said that she had been employed by the company in a management capacity.

Ulster Bank created a charge over Glencullen’s assets in 1999, including Killegy House. Lavin claims that in 2009 the company sought additional credit facilities from Ulster Bank to allow it continue to trade during the downturn.

The bank she claims was unwilling to do this unless €1 million was invested in the company. Following the sale of a property they had in Florida for $7.25 million Lavin said she agreed to advance Bill Cullen €1 million.

This was so he could pay down Glencullen’s liabilities. As part of the arrangement Killegy House would be sold to her. She said she paid over €757,000 to the company but it has failed to complete the sale of the property to her.

She claims she has suffered loss and damage as a result of being deprived of the opportunity to buy the house. After the company was placed in receivership it secured an order from Residential Tenancies Board requiring her to leave Killegy House.

In her action she seeks an order for the specific performance directing the sale of Killegy House to her. She also seeks an order prohibiting the defendants from entering into any contract for sale of the property other than with Lavin.

Glencullen Properties, represented by Bernard Dunleavy SC, denies the claims and argues that she is not entitled to any of the orders she seeks.

The court heard that Cullen has not deliver a defence to the action.

In its defence the company says it accepts Lavin agreed to advance Cullen €1 million so he could loan Glencullen funds to reduce its liabilities.

However the company denies the monies were advanced as part of an agreement to sell Killegy to Lavin. The company said it never agreed to sell the premises to her for any sum nor is there any contract of sale between the parties.

It also says that at no time prior to May 2013 did Lavin mention any agreement involving her buying the property from Glencullen.

The company said Lavin has failed to comply with the order it obtained requiring her to leave Killegy and has brought enforcement proceedings before the Circuit Court.

It further submits that after advancing the loan to Cullen in late-2010 Lavin signed a statutory declaration that she did not hold any interest right or tittle to any assets of Glencullen.

The declaration, which was sought by Ulster Bank was signed after she had received independent legal advice.

The company accepts by an oversight Killegy House was not listed in the documentation, however the declaration refers to all property belonging to Glencullen which includes the premises.

Lavin accepts she signed a waiver as part of the arrangement, after being given legal advice that it was not in her interest to do so.

She said she signed the waiver because if she didn’t the bank would cut Glencullen off from access to further credit.

The case was mentioned before Justice Tony O’Connor at the High Court today.

The judge was asked to deal with a preliminary issue in the case relating to the timing of the discovery of documents, which Lavin’s lawyers say are relevant to her claim, from Ulster Bank. The bank is not a party to the proceedings.

Following discussions the court was told that a timetable for the exchange of materials had been agreed. The case was adjourned and will be mentioned before the court at the end of April.

Comments have been closed as the case is ongoing.

Read: Led by Jackie Lavin, around 60 Irish businesses want compensation from Ulster Bank

Read: Losing brother and sister put business problems into perspective for Bill Cullen

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Aodhan O Faolain

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