The Commercial Court has been told the four members of the O'Donnell family at the centre of a €71m court battle with Bank of Ireland are attempting to "paralyse" the litigation through tactics.

Bank of Ireland is seeking a bankruptcy declaration against Dublin solicitor, Brian O'Donnell, his wife Mary Patricia O'Donnell and their two sons, Bruce and Blake.

Lawyers for the bank told the court that none of the four had taken steps to make an appearance or submit a defence as laid down in an order by Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan.

A lawyer for Bruce and Blake O'Donnell said it would be inappropriate for the pair to make an appearance as they were contesting the right of the court to hear the case. He denied that this was "tactical".

Brian and Mary Patricia O'Donnell are attempting to have themselves declared bankrupt in the UK - which they claim is their centre of main interest. Bank of Ireland is challenging the petition to a London court.

Justice Peter Kelly said the defendants had taken none of the steps in the order by Justice Finlay Geoghegan.

Neither, he said, had they lodged an appeal against a ruling that the court does have the jurisdiction to hear the case.

This was despite indicating that they wished to appeal the ruling.

He said it was not surprising to hear the bank complaining of tactics and what had happened appeared to lend itself to the suspicion that this was what was going on.

Justice Kelly granted an adjournment conditional on the defendants lodging books of appeal by this day week.