Jurisdiction issue in legal challenge brought by O'Gara and O'Flynn in relation to third shareholder's PIA

Mr O'Gara, Mr O'Flynn and Mr O'Driscoll who are known to each other were equal shareholders in the venture, which was funded by loans from Anglo Irish Bank.
Jurisdiction issue in legal challenge brought by O'Gara and O'Flynn in relation to third shareholder's PIA

The matter was mentioned before Mr Justice Alexander Owens on Monday, who questioned if the application should be heard by the High Court. Photo by XAVIER LEOTY/AFP via Getty Images.

The High Court is to consider if it is the appropriate court to hear an application by a company whose shareholders include rugby star Ronan O'Gara and businessman Michael O'Flynn to set aside a Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA) made in favour of fellow shareholder John O'Driscoll.

The application to set aside the PIA has been made by Ezeon Entertainment Limited, a company which purchased a Cork-based pub called 'The Silly Goose' in 2007.

Mr O'Gara, Mr O'Flynn and Mr O'Driscoll who are known to each other were equal shareholders in the venture, which was funded by loans from Anglo-Irish Bank.

Mr O'Gara and Mr O'Flynn claim that the courts were misled by Mr O'Driscoll in approving and upholding the PIA.

Mr O'Driscoll denies all the claims against him.

The matter was mentioned before Mr Justice Alexander Owens on Monday, who questioned if the application should be heard by the High Court.

Bernard Dunleavy SC instructed by solicitor Eugene Carley on behalf the respondent's Personal Insolvency Practioner (PIP) Mr Alan McGee had sworn a statement in reply to Ezeon's claims regarding the PIA.

While his client says the application is without merit and entirely pointless it is also argued that the High Court does not have the jurisdiction to hear the application.

The application by Ezeon, which it is alleged is being used by Mr O'Flynn as a vehicle to re-litigate the case, should have been made to the Circuit Court which granted the PIA in the first place, it is argued.

Martin Hayden SC for Ezeon said his side would like to make submissions on the matter but said his side will argue that the High Court does have the jurisdiction to hear the application.

Mr Justice Owens said that the preliminary issue on jurisdiction would have to be decided first.

The judge adjourned the matter for a week, to allow the sides exchange documents on the issue of jurisdiction.

The judge added that he intends to fix a date for the hearing of the preliminary issue when the application returns before him next Monday.

Mr O'Driscoll was granted a PIA by the Circuit Court in March 2022.

That decision was upheld on appeal to the High Court last July.

In proceedings before the High Court Mr O'Flynn sought to overturn the PIA over the alleged debt owed to him.

He was prevented from doing so after the High Court found that he lacked the legal standing to do so.

An application by Mr O'Flynn to have his appeal against the dismissal of his own challenge against the PIA, heard by the Supreme Court has yet to be determined, Mr Justice Owens was also told on Monday.

Ezeon has brought an application before the High Court seeking to set aside the PIA over concerns including an alleged misappropriation of just over €15,000 in company funds by Mr O'Driscoll.

It also claims that there is significant stock missing from the company.

In a sworn statement in reply to the allegation Mr O'Driscoll denies the claims against him and says that at no point did he misappropriate the money as alleged or that he had done anything improper.

He accepts that the money was withdrawn from the company without the other shareholder's prior knowledge. But says he did this as repayment of monies he was owed.

Any suggestion that he did anything improper, he adds, is "entirely incorrect."

He said that he had put the money into the company at a time when it was not successfully trading at the insistence of the other shareholders.

He also said that he had agreed to reintroduce the monies into the company when Mr O'Gara and Mr Flynn felt it necessary to do so.

Previously the court heard that in 2014 Mr O'Flynn took over the borrowings and refinanced Ezeon for €2.2m, which had risen to €2.5m by 2018.

Arising out of that debt it is alleged that Mr O'Driscoll, from Ovens in Cork, owes at least €950,000 to Mr O'Flynn.

Ezeon claims that because it was never given any notice of Mr O'Driscoll's initial application for protection from his creditors the company was never received a proper opportunity to object to him being granted a PIA.

It has further concerns over the categorisation of Mr O'Driscoll's debt to Ezeon.

Ezeon claims that the debt owed to it by Mr O'Driscoll was not properly specified in the PIA, that it did not know about the PIA until the matter appeared in media reports, and that the process was in effect an alleged fraud on the company.

It did not validly approve the PIA, the company's lawyers have further submitted.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Echo 130Echo 130
EL_music

Podcast: 1000 Cork songs 
Singer/songwriter Jimmy Crowley talks to John Dolan

Listen Here

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more