High Court rejects Gayle Dunne's lawyer cross-examination applicationFriday 19 February 2016 18.04
The High Court has dismissed an application by the wife of bankrupt developer Sean Dunne to cross examine a lawyer representing the official dealing with Mr Dunne's bankruptcy in the US as part of her bid to halt Irish proceedings against her.
The proceedings against Ms Gayle Dunne arise over alleged invalid transfers to her of various assets of her husband.
The assets include the transfer of a hotel in South Africa valued at more than €18m. The action has been brought by Chris Lehane, the official administering Mr Dunne's Irish bankruptcy.
Ms Dunne with an address at Greenwich, Connecticut, wants the proceedings brought by Mr Lehane against her discontinued.
She says the transfers are already the subject of bankruptcy proceedings in the US, where Mr Dunne has also been adjudicated bankrupt.
In March 2013 Mr Dunne filed for bankruptcy in the US state of Connecticut, where he was based.
In July 2013, he was adjudicated bankrupt in Ireland. That adjudication was upheld by the Irish Supreme Court.
As part of her bid to have Irish proceedings against her dismissed, Ms Dunne in a preliminary motion sought permission to cross examine Mr Timothy Miltenberger, who is the lawyer of Mr Richard Coan -the Bankruptcy Trustee dealing with Mr Dunne's bankruptcy in the US.
Mr Miltenberger has provided two sworn statements in respect of Mr Lehane's proceedings on issues including points of US law, the court heard.
The application was opposed by Mr Lehane, who had sought a reciprocal order that if Mr Miltenberger was to be challenged then Mrs Dunne's US lawyer Mr Alec Ostrow's evidence also has to be tested before the Irish Courts.
In her judgment Ms Justice Caroline Costello said she was satisfied that Mr Miltenberger’s cross-examination was not necessary.
As he was not required, the application to cross examine Mr Ostrow did not arise, the Judge also ruled.
The Judge adjourned the matter to a date later this month.
Mr Lehane's proceedings against Mrs Dunne relate to two alleged agreements between Sean Dunne and his wife in 2005 and 2008.
The alleged agreements relate to assets including the Lagoon Beach Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa and interests in assets including properties in Dublin and Co Wicklow, as well as a property at Shrewsbury Road, Dublin.
Mr Lehane claims the alleged agreement has no legal status.
Mrs Dunne says the Irish proceedings in respect of the alleged transfer are oppressive. She wants any such challenge to the alleged transfer determined by the US courts.
In her defence, Ms Dunne says she is legally married to, and is the employer of, Mr Dunne, has been a US resident since 2010, and divides her time between the US and UK where she has business interests.
Prior to getting married, the couple had agreed, if she married Mr Dunne and started a family with him, he would immediately transfer a portion of his wealth to her, she claims.
It states agreements were reached between herself and Mr Dunne in March 2005 and in 2008 and a formal share transfer took place in October 2008.
The transfers were entered into as compensation for Ms Dunne when she and Mr Dunne had started a family for her career as a journalist and prospective career as a lawyer.
Ms Dunne's claims in respect of the purported asset transfers are rejected by Mr Lehane.