In the recent High Court case of Allied Irish Banks plc (the “Bank”) v Marino Motor Works Limited (“MMWL”), Ms. Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh refused the Bank’s application for summary judgment and sent the matter forward to plenary hearing as neither the court, nor MMWL, could verify the Bank’s interest claim.
In advance of this matter coming before Ms. Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh, the Master of the High Court instructed MMWL’s accountant, Mr. Brian Weakliam, to conduct a review of the Bank’s interest claim. To facilitate that review, Mr. Weakliam sought a detailed breakdown of the interest claim from the Bank however the Bank refused his request as, firstly, the matter was already before the courts for determination and, secondly, the applicable loan terms and conditions provided that, save for in the case of manifest error, a certificate from any officer of the Bank was to be treated as conclusive evidence as to the sum due. When returning before the court, Mr. Weakliam, a former accountant with the Bank, noted also that the Bank had, as it was entitled to do, charged interest due on two accounts to one account only which, together with the Bank’s refusal to provide a detailed breakdown of the interest claim, made his verification exercise more difficult and complex to complete.
With reservation, Ms. Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh held that this particular case was not suitable for summary judgement on the basis that neither the Court, nor MMWL, were in a position to verify the Bank’s interest claim based on the information made available to them. Ms. Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh went onto say that, notwithstanding the inclusion of a conclusive evidence clause in the loan terms and conditions, she was doubtful that the Bank could deprive a borrower of the information required by it to verify the Bank’s claim.
Arising from this decision, it is expected that lenders will see an increased number of requests for detailed account breakdowns and also challenges to summary proceeding applications where lenders have failed to substantiate their claim.