Ulster developers could fight loans transfer to NAMA
Northern Ireland developers are considering a legal attack on the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA) in the High Court in Belfast, it can be revealed.
It is understood that a small but influential cohort of developers who object to the transfer of their loans to the Republic's ‘bad bank’ are exploring the possibility of bringing a legal action.
It is believed the group would try to take an action under the 1998 Human Rights Act, challenging the right of NAMA to acquire certain assets, testing the definition of eligible assets and the agency's powers outside its jurisdiction.
The developers, who are building support for a test case and have sought preliminary legal advice on its prospects, also claim that NAMA is an unjust and disproportionate attack on their property rights.
Up to 150 developers and investors from Northern Ireland are likely to find their loans transferred into NAMA, with an unknown quantity of developers with loans valued at more than €100 million (£83m). In all, some €5bn (£4.1bn) worth of loans will be transferred from Northern Ireland into NAMA.
The proposed litigation would mark the opening of a second legal front against NAMA which is defending a critical legal challenge currently being fast tracked in the Commercial Court in Dublin.
That action, which will come before the Commercial Court in October, has been brought by Belfast-born but Dublin-based developer Paddy McKillen who has claimed that a definition of eligible assets used in the NAMA act is unconstitutional.
The Irish Government has already argued in the opening stages of the action that any perception the NAMA system was flawed would undermine confidence in international markets and push up government borrowing costs.