Law Society can't seize solicitor's home, court told
The Law Society cannot seize half the value of a Belfast solicitor's matrimonial home because he signed it all over to his wife, the High Court has heard.
Under its responsibilities for the business affairs of John Bogue, the regulatory body is seeking an order for up to 50% of the proceeds of selling the property.
Mr Bogue, who had been a partner in a successful law firm in the city, is currently restricted from running his own practice following an independent disciplinary tribunal decision.
There is no suggestion of any irregularities concerning any of his former colleagues.
The Law Society representatives want his share of equity in the south Belfast house as part of its power of attorneyship.
A barrister for his wife Mary told the High Court yesterday of an agreement she says the couple entered into in 2002, but was only disclosed last year.
John O'Hara QC said his client contended this terminated Mr Bogue's interest in the property.
The court heard the house was bought for £165,000 in 1990, and then remortgaged nine years later for more than £400,000.
"On her case she saw her husband working very hard yet the mortgage on the home more than doubled," Mr O'Hara said.
Mrs Bogue's anxieties were said to have increased further when her husband suggested raising a further £70,000 in 2002, bringing the total mortgage to nearly £500,000.
It was claimed that she only agreed to this on the basis that it ended the solicitor's interest in the property.
Mr O'Hara acknowledged Law Society arguments that no such agreement existed or that her case should fail because it took years to disclose it.
The barrister added: "Mr Bogue had a real interest in ensuring his wife and children had a roof over their heads.
"That's what led to him paying in whatever way he did the mortgage throughout his working life."
John Maxwell, for the Law Society, confirmed that the 2002 agreement was disputed.
Mr Maxwell further contended that Mrs Bogue has not paid more than her husband, even allowing for recent contributions.
The case continues.