Deirdre Yates opposes AIB court bid for €1.6 million
THE wife of Wexford's former government minister Ivan Yates is asking the High Court not to give a bank a summary judgment order against her for €1.6m.
The debt arises out of a guarantee Deirdre Yates gave on loans obtained from AIB to her husband for his Celtic Bookmakers business which went into liquidation in 2011.
Mr Yates, who is now a radio broadcaster and newspaper columnist, was later declared bankrupt in the UK having lived for 16 months in Wales to qualify under their more relaxed bankruptcy laws.
AIB says as Deirdre Yates was a majority shareholder, director and company secretary of the bookmakers, it was entitled to recover from her €1.6m arising out of the single guarantee she signed on her husband's debt.
Ms Yates, a primary school teacher, claims when she signed the guarantee she did not receive, and was not advised to receive, legal advice about the implications of doing so.
She particularly was not aware that the family home in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, was at risk if there was default on the loans to her husband, she says.
AIB wants the court to grant summary judgment because it says she has no defence to the claim.
Ms Yates wants the matter to go to a full hearing so the court can assess all the facts surrounding the matter.
Mr Justice Seamus Noonan said he will give a decision this Friday.
Andrew Fitzpatrick BL, for AIB, said Ms Yates' claim she did not understand her liability arising out of what she signed did not stand scrutiny. The terms of the arrangements could not be more clearly explained and at no stage in three separate affidavits she swore did she explain what understanding she actually had, he said.
In relation to her claim that she did not receive any legal advice, the very first paragraph of the the document she signed stated legal advice should be obtained, he said.
She claimed she did not understand the nature of the documents and that they were only for administrative purposes because her husband was the "principal mover in the company" and it was his assets that were at risk if there was default on the loan, counsel said.
However, she was asked to sign a guarantee as a director and shareholder which is a normal security sought by a bank providing loan facilities for a company, he said.
The bank was entitled, under law, to seek to enforce one or more of its securities, Mr Fitzpatrick said. In doing so, it would still only be able to recover what it was entitled to, no more, he said.
Brian Conroy BL, for Ms Yates, who was in court with her husband, said there should be a full hearing of all matters.
Her only income was as a schoolteacher and the bank already had charges against other fixed assets provided under the guarantee, he said.
There was €825,000 available to the bank from the sale of a property which went towards Mr Yates UK bankruptcy and no credit had been given by AIB for that, counsel said.
There was also €35,000 legal costs due to be paid to Mr Yates by AIB from his bankruptcy proceedings which had not been factored in. The issue of bank charges, which were included in the amount sought, would require to be examined as part of a full hearing into the matter, counsel said.
While AIB said she had been advised in the documents to seek legal advice, that was not the same as, for example, asking that she provide a letter from a solicitor saying she had been so advised. The bank "did not take any proper steps to encourage her to take legal advice", he said.
In reply, Mr Fitzpatrick for AIB said the bank had not received the €825,000 from the UK trustee in bankruptcy but it would offset it against he overall debt if it did.