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Daughter delays bank bid to repossess dad's farm in Northern Ireland

By Alan Erwin

A farmer's daughter has won a High Court battle to stop imminent bank repossession of his land.

Louise Robinson was granted a stay on any move by the bank to sell the 67-acre farm in Co Down which she says was promised to her by her father.

A judge ruled in court yesterday that her claim to have an equitable interest in the lands should be decided at a future trial.

HSBC Bank had secured an order for possession of the site at Ravara Road, Ballygowan over an unpaid loan to her father, Ivan Robinson.

She mounted a High Court appeal after failing in a previous legal bid to have that process put on hold.

Ms Robinson stated that she acted to her own detriment on the understanding that she would be given the land in due course.

The 33-year-old, whose mother died in 1987, helped her father on the farm from the age of 10, the court heard.

Later she attended agricultural school in Shropshire in a bid to be better equipped to take over its management.

Following her return to Northern Ireland Ms Robinson got a job at a livestock market and continued to work on the farm for no payment.

She used her income to pay some bills and took out a £10,000 loan to help her father repay his debts.

Since 2013 she has paid all farming expenses totalling £8,000 to £10,000 a month, according to her evidence.

Ms Robinson stated that her father repeatedly told her the farm would be given to her.

Her lawyers argued that she had spent money and time on the farm, directing her education and career to being in a position to take over its running.

Counsel for the bank described her claim as hopeless.

He contended that the application for a stay was being mounted because enforcement of the possession order on the farm was imminent.

However, Madam Justice McBride held there were real triable issues on whether Ms Robinson has an equitable interest in the lands, acted to her detriment and was in actual possession.

She stressed that she was not ruling on whether the farmer's daughter would ultimately succeed.

Granting a stay, the judge pointed out that it delays rather than ends the bank's right to possession of the land.

"In contrast, if the stay is not granted the appellant's claim to the lands would be extinguished as the bank will sell the lands and the appellant will not be able to obtain the relief she seeks," she added.

"Therefore the prejudice to the appellant is not capable of remedy if a stay is not granted."

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