An application by Quinn family members to have court-appointed receivers removed and their solicitors discharged on the basis of an alleged conflict of interest and partiality has been dismissed by the Commercial Court.
Members of the Quinn family brought an application to remove the receivers appointed by the Court over their personal assets and to prohibit the receivers’ solicitors from acting for them in that role. They claimed that the receivers and the solicitors ought not to be permitted to continue in those roles because of an alleged real, or apparent, conflict of interest and partiality.
Specifically, they claimed that the receivers were biased towards IBRC (with whom the Quinn family is embroiled in dispute) on several grounds including that employees of the receivers’ firm had some past connection either with IBRC or Quinn Finance and that a number of them have worked at the bank before and since its nationalisation.
The Quinn family also alleged that the relevant legal firm was conflicted on certain grounds including its involvement in the restructuring of Quinn companies.
The Court held that the Quinn family, in seeking the discharge of the receivers and their solicitors, had done so on a misunderstanding of the legal position with regard to conflicts, coupled with a great distrust of the bank and its approach to them.
The Court held that the Quinn family had failed to demonstrate grounds which would justify the removal of the receivers. The court further held that it has to be satisfied as to specific evidence of some improper conduct on the part of the receivers and it is not enough to suggest that the receivers will not be capable of acting independently because of a former relationship with one of the parties to the dispute. On the facts before it, the Court held that there was no basis established for removing the receivers because of their firm’s previous involvement with aspects of Quinn Finance nor was there any case established by reference to firm employees who had previously been employees of the bank.
In relation to the receivers’ solicitors, the Court held, again on the facts, that there was no evidence of impropriety or conflict of interest on the part of the relevant firm in acting for the receivers. It stated that just because the firm has, in the past, acted for clients whose interests may be perceived by the Quinn family to be adverse to theirs, it is not evidence of bias or conflict.
Contributed by Craig Sowman.