The Court of Appeal (CoA) has overturned a ruling that around 20 people who have lived in two Dublin properties for several years were in contempt of court for persistently refusing to leave the buildings.
The High Court ruled last year that the occupants, who claimed to have lived at 31 Richmond Avenue, Fairview, and 21 Little Mary Street, Dublin 2, for 15 years, had breached orders which I needed to vacate the properties from them.
Residents said they failed to comply with orders asking them to vacate because they had nowhere else to go.
The orders were sought by financial fund Paper Finance which had secured loans taken out on properties, the registered owner of which is businessman Jerry Bedes, which had fallen into arrears.
While some occupiers claimed that rent had been paid to Mr Bedes over the years, there was no evidence, since the possession orders were issued, that Mr Bedes had paid anyone else, including Pepper. Yes, the court heard.
The orders were given by Mr Justice Mark Sanfe last year. However, none of the men in question were ever jailed despite the convictions against them.
While making the order, the judge expressed his sympathy for the plight of the residents and urged various agencies and parties to cooperate with each other to help find alternative accommodation for the residents.
The residents, variously represented by John Kennedy SC, Rory Kennedy, George Byrnes, Bara McCabe, May Cox and Philip Fennell, appealed for a finding based on the manner in which the legal documents were served to the residents. It had several flaws.
The appeal was opposed on the grounds that it was moot or frivolous.
In its judgment, the three-judge CoA comprising Ms. Justice Maura Whelan, Mr. Justice Maurice Collins and Ms. Justice Teresa Pilkington set aside the attachment and commitment orders made by the lower court as the occupiers were subject to all relevant institutions. was not served properly. Legal documents.
Delivering the court’s decision, Ms Justice Whelan said the failure to effect proper service of those documents was “a material error”.
Ms Justice Whelan added that errors relating to the service of documents left the court with “no option but to intervene”.
The judge also found that the penal endorsement was invalid and that the service of the orders had not been properly effected, which was sufficient to make out a valid application to add to the contempt jurisdiction of the High Court.
He said that Article 40.4.1 of the Constitution provides that no citizen shall be deprived of his liberty in accordance with the law.
He said contempt proceedings can affect an individual’s liberty, and each committal order must be considered on its own merits.
In that case, the judge held that Pepper sought to evict occupants from properties he legally foreclosed on foreclosed mortgages.
The judge said the two properties in question consisted of 12 units, which were family homes for the occupants.
The judge said that while Pepper had no direct legal relationship with the occupants, he was entitled to relief to secure the vacancy.
However, he did not take adequate steps to ascertain the identity of all the occupants of the building before the documents were produced.
Pepper had also failed to properly serve the concerned persons with all the legal documents related to the respective applications.
The judge held that the overall effect of the weaknesses and deficiencies identified by the CoA was that the orders should be set aside.
The judge said it also appeared that McCain was entitled to have his legal costs paid by Pepper.
The High Court passed the contempt order after Paper Finance Corporation DAC had earlier obtained orders asking the occupiers to vacate the properties.
After they failed to leave, the paper obtained a warrant of attachment (arrest) of the petitioners to bring them to court.
The properties were made the subject of High Court acquisition orders in 2008, and the Supreme Court upheld the same in 2014.
The seizure orders arose out of IIB Bank’s default on loans and sales to KBC Bank, Beltney Property Finance and Pepper respectively.
The paper claimed that debts of around 2.3 million euros were owed and as a result of the seizure orders, the occupants, including several Romanian nationals and two young children, on lease or rental agreements between them and Mr Bedes. Couldn’t depend on it.