Belfast Telegraph

Free legal help for bankrupt tycoon

A team of barristers represented Sean Quinn for free in court as he fought to be allowed to take part in legal proceedings by his family against the former Anglo Irish Bank.

Senior counsel Brian Cregan told the Commercial Court he was offering his services pro bono to Mr Quinn - once Ireland's richest man - for the day-long hearing.

The ex-billionaire tycoon, who has been declared bankrupt, was expected to defend himself during the hearing until Blake Corrigan Solicitors, Mr Cregan and two others barristers agreed to take his case.

Dressed in a navy suit, blue striped tie and crisp white shirt, Mr Quinn sat at the back of the courtroom in Dublin's Four Courts with his son-in-law Niall McPartland, as the rebranded Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) fought his application. Bank executives, including chief executive Mike Aynsley, sat nearby.

The court heard Mr Quinn's wife Patricia, and their five adult children were taking a case against Anglo over claims they were liable to repay more than two billion euro in loans from the bank. IBRC allege the loans were given for the illegal purpose of manipulating Anglo's share price.

The bank maintains if the family win, it is entitled to seek compensation from Mr Quinn and the two other former directors of the Quinn Group. The official assignee in the bankruptcy - the person responsible for the Quinn estate - has decided not to represent Mr Quinn in the action as it would be of no benefit to creditors. Mr Quinn took a case to be represented in the hearing.

Lawyers for Mr Quinn argued the Bankruptcy Act did not expressly deprive him of the right to defend proceedings, and that there were certain types of legal actions a bankrupt could bring and could defend. Mr Cregan also claimed that Mr Quinn had a constitutional right to defend his good name.

Brian Murray, senior council for IBRC, argued that because the court would not make any findings of fact against Mr Quinn, he could not invoke his constitutional right to defend his good name. He maintained a bankrupt person could only defend proceedings which were directed at him or her personally.

"Once Mr Quinn became bankrupt and lost any interest in the property against which I will seek my judgment and because he has no interest in that property it must follow that he has no standing to defend it," said Mr Murray.

The hearing, before Mr Justice Peter Kelly, continues on Friday.

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