A Co Monaghan shopkeeper - who had never before been involved in property development - was given a loan of €32m to build a shopping centre, the Commercial Court has heard.

The Commercial Court heard that Zurich Bank is seeking the repayment of the money from Jim McConnon of Main Street in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan.

The court heard that Mr McConnon built Castleblayney Shopping Centre, but has had difficulty letting all the units in the centre and could not repay the money.

Mr McConnon was given the money in June 2007 and the loans were due to be repaid in May 2009.

The bank said it had engaged in negotiations with Mr McConnon in an effort to help him to restructure his loans. But it said proposals put forward by him had been rejected.

Mr McConnon owned the local Supervalu in Castleblayney.

Lawyers for Mr McConnon told the court there had been a delay by the bank in bringing the legal proceedings.

Senior Counsel Ross Maguire said Mr McConnon's position was hopeless and it had been clear by July last year that the position was, and is, hopeless - and Mr McConnon had no possibility of paying off the level of debt he was in.

Mr Maguire said his client, whom he described as a shopkeeper, never previously engaged in any development of any shape or size.

He claimed that the bank had approached Mr McConnon - not the other way around.

He said he would be arguing that Mr McConnon was covered by the terms of the consumer credit act and may be entitled to certain protections under that act as he was a shopkeeper and not a developer.

Lawyers for the bank said it was quite extraordinary that a loan of €32m to build a shopping centre could be interpreted as a consumer contract.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said he would give Mr McConnon's lawyers the opportunity to make their case and set a date of 17 February for the hearing of the bank's action.