Buyers being sued for failing to complete on apartments in Belfast's Titanic Quarter are to claim they simply have no money, the High Court has been told.
Several of the 12 customers confirmed they will be entering a defence of ‘impecuniosity’ in the action brought by developers. A test case has now been listed to determine whether being bereft of cash can shield them from the proceedings.
Titanic Quarter Ltd, owned by Dublin-based firm Harcourt Developments, is seeking orders for specific performance to compel the defendants to honour their side of the deal.
The firm issued writs against customers who signed up to apartments in the flagship site but are now struggling to secure finance.
Proceedings were triggered by falling property prices which has left some clients unable to secure mortgages for sales agreed at the height of the market.
Although incentives have reportedly been offered in a bid to reach completion, agreements had proved elusive.
Since the lawsuit was launched a resolution has been reached with at least one defendant to complete on their purchase. But others have told of using family inheritances for deposits and being refused mortgage applications.
The judge in the case heard yesterday that customers — some of whom are representing themselves — are to rely on the impecuniosity defence.
Mr Justice Deeny agreed to hear arguments in one of them next month before giving a ruling which is expected to have implications for other defendants.
Titanic Quarter Ltd is one of a number of high-profile developers in Northern Ireland to bring cases over uncompleted contracts at new complexes in Belfast.
Lawyers for Big Picture Developments, who developed the Ormeau Bakery apartments, and PBN, who were behind the Woodlands Manor development, have been in the High Court regularly.