Belfast Telegraph

Possible 'conflict of interest' over lawsuit

By Nick Webb

Arthur Cox, the Republic's largest law firm, faces a major potential 'conflict of interest' over the Paddy McKillen lawsuit in London.

Last Tuesday, it emerged that Arthur Cox had been acting for property developer Paddy McKillen in relation to the Claridges deal. It also acts for Nama.

A London court heard how Arthur Cox had advised the developer on the developing situation at Claridges hotel. The law firm had reviewed a potential transaction with Qatari investors for Mr McKillen.

Arthur Cox has also received more than €3.07m (£2.56m) in fees for advising Nama. The law firm was retained by the Department of Finance and helped draw up the legal framework for the establishment of the State agency in 2009.

It has continued to advise Nama since then, although not in relation to Mr McKillen.

Last year, Mr McKillen sued Nama to prevent his loans being transferred to the agency. After an initial reverse, he won his case on appeal to the Supreme Court. Although it had acted for both parties in the past, Arthur Cox was not involved.

The lawsuit in London last week saw key roles played by other Arthur Cox clients including Derek Quinlan and Anglo Irish Bank. Mr Quinlan was one of the shareholders in Claridges. Cox has worked as an adviser to Mr Quinlan's Quinlan Private Asset Management on property acquisitions. The practice has also acted for Anglo Irish Bank on debt recovery issues including moves against former Anglo chairman Sean FitzPatrick.

Last year, Padraig O'Riordain - the then managing partner of the firm - dismissed claims of conflicts of interest at Arthur Cox, specifically in relation to the firm acting for the Department of Finance and Bank of Ireland.