CLEARED TO TAKE CRIMINAL PROSECUTION: Owner of The Aberdeen Lodge guesthouse, the Merrion Hall Boutique and Halpin’s Townhouse, Pat Halpin, with his partner Ann, daughter, Simone and son Blake.
SHANE PHELAN and RUAIDHRI GIBLIN – 28 July 2013
A HIGH Court judge has cleared the way for aggrieved customers to initiate private criminal prosecutions against bank staff.
In a landmark judgement, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan upheld the right of citizens to bring private prosecutions, after lawyers for Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) claimed this right had been abolished 14 years ago.
His decision paves the way for a hotelier to bring a private prosecution against two IBRC officials he claims behaved dishonestly during discussions about a rescue plan for his business, which has debts of €23m.
It is believed to be the first case of its kind since the banking collapse and could lead to a raft of similar actions.
Hotelier wins the right to pursue staff over bank loans
“Employees of financial institutions never thought that they could be prosecuted for their actions as bank officials,” one senior counsel told the Sunday Independent.
A summons has been issued to compel the bank officials to attend to answer allegations in a district court.
Once that hearing takes place, it will then be up to the Director of Public Prosecutions to decide whether the case should proceed further.
“The underlying purpose of the private prosecution is . . . to draw the public prosecutor’s attention to the case with the implicit request that the prosecution be taken over (by the DPP),” Mr Justice Hogan said in his written judgement.
The ruling opens the way for disgruntled customers to take cases against officials at all levels of the banking sector.
However, legal experts warned there are dangers involved for people seeking private prosecutions, as they could find themselves liable for substantial legal costs if they fail.
The ruling came after one current and one former member of IBRC staff sought a judicial review to bring a halt to hotelier Pat Halpin’s private prosecution against them.
Mr Halpin, 62, has run hotels in Dublin and his native Clare for a quarter of a century, but got into difficulty in recent years over borrowings with the former Anglo Irish Bank.
LINK TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/court-clears-way-for-pe…
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