Belfast Telegraph

Former tycoon brothers given 14 days to find legal aid

Alan Erwin

Former housebuilding tycoons Michael and John Taggart have two weeks to seek legal aid for their multi-million pound legal battle with the Ulster Bank, a High Court judge has ruled.

Mr Justice Burgess imposed the deadline on the brothers after being told they can no longer afford to pay for lawyers.

And with senior counsel for the bank expressing deep scepticism over their alleged financial plight, the judge wants to see copies of their legal aid applications. The brothers, once described as the richest businessmen in Ireland, are suing the Ulster Bank for alleged negligence and improper conduct they claim contributed to the fall of their empire.

The Taggart Group was one of Northern Ireland's largest housebuilders, with operations in England and the Republic. It collapsed in 2008, costing creditors hundreds of millions of pounds.

In a counter-claim, Ulster Bank has lodged writs for £5m and €4.3m (£3.6m) it claims the brothers owe in personal guarantees.

A hearing of the combined cases due to begin at the High Court yesterday was put on hold after the Taggarts claimed it was no longer financially possible to keep paying barristers and solicitors. The case was adjourned until October 1.

Belfast Telegraph

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