Archive for the ‘Irish Independant’ Category

Tense stand-off between Sligo farmer and bank

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Irish Independant

Caitriona Murphy

A tense stand off has developed between a Co Sligo farmer, Gardaí and bailiffs after the Bank of Ireland sold 35ac of a 96ac farm to an unknown buyer for an undisclosed sum.

John Devaney (64) and his son Jonathan (33), from Templeview, Easkey, Co Sligo, have refused to vacate the land, for which a possession order has been granted, because they claim its loss will break up their milking platform and render it impossible to re-establish a dairy enterprise.

The Devaneys have accepted that the sale of their assets is necessary to resolve their debt with the bank. However, they claim they offered to sell an alternative 38.5ac block and milk quota to settle their debt.

They say the impact of Bank of Ireland’s action is that they would have two unconnected holdings of 18ac and 38.5ac.

The pair have accused the bank of being heavy-handed, failing to engage with the Devaneys’ agent, agricultural consultant Richard Rea, and failing in its duty of care.

Mr Rea requested a meeting with the solicitors for the Bank of Ireland but this never took place because pre-conditions were sought.

He claimed that he also offered the sale of another 38.5ac and quota, together with the goodwill of the Devaney family, instead of the 35ac that the possession order applied to — but this was refused.

The Devaneys mounted a 24-hour watch on the land over the weekend after the bank wrote to Mr Rea, warning that if the cattle were still on the land by yesterday it would be necessary to remove the cattle to a pound in Cavan using wranglers. They were warned that they would be liable for all expenses charged by the pound, amounting to around €35 per animal a day.

As we went to press yesterday, the Gardaí and bailiffs had withdrawn from seeking to secure possession.

When contacted by the Farming Independent, a Bank of Ireland spokesperson said it was the bank’s policy not to discuss individual customer cases.

“We work closely with customers who encounter financial difficulties. Our most experienced bankers work to help and support these customers on an ongoing basis,” said the spokesperson.

Farmers urged to turn from law to mediation

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Irish Independant

By Caitriona Murphy

(from left) Tom Dawson, Rea Group; Mark Fielding, ISME; Minister of State for Labour and Reform of the Public Service Dara Calleary; Richard Rea, Rea Group; Evelyn O’Donnell. Donal T Ryan & Co solicitors; barrister Michael O’Connor and Oliver Ryan-Purcell, Rea Group agri-law consultant, take a break at the launch of the Rea Group Mediation service in Cashel, Co Tipperary

Ireland is now regarded as one of the most expensive countries in the world for litigation.

A typical farm-family dispute over a will in the circuit court is estimated to cost a minimum of €15,000 plus VAT for each side.

However, Rea Group, the Tipperary-based farm consultancy firm, has launched a new mediation division, which, they argue, could cost significantly less for individuals involved in farm disputes.

Led by well-known solicitor Oliver Ryan-Purcell and barrister Michael O’Connor, the new division will handle succession and inheritance issues, neighbour disputes, landowner/ tenant problems, commercial leasing, shareholder disputes and large debt recovery.

Speaking at the launch of the mediation service, Mr Ryan-Purcell described litigation as “going for the jugular”.

“The court process is cumbersome, expensive, time consuming and stressful,” he said.

“Using mediation could avoid decades of litigation. A mediator’s intervention at an appropriate time could save hundreds of thousands of euro in court costs.

“It could be the difference between the happy survival of a united farm or family business on the one hand or the destruction of a farm or business and an unending feud on the other,” he added.

Barrister Mr O’Connor said mediation would be very useful in a farm scenario where the father leaves everything to one child and the other children immediately challenge the will.

“If there are several claims, that means the sale of the farm,” said Mr O’Connor.

“There is a winner-takes-all aspect to court litigation, but mediation offers an alternative and is now being encouraged through the court system,” he added.

Mediation is a simple process involving one or more meetings between a mediator and individual parties to the dispute or the parties together.

The mediator guides and facilitates the process by helping the parties to explore all options to achieve settlement.