Anglo-Irish bank is dead and the Irish rugby team have not fared much better, muses Lorcan Tiernan of Dublin firm Dillon Eustace
Early February saw the Irish Government strike another blow in the country’s epic struggle with the legacies of its home grown banking crisis. In the line-up of villains, IBRC (the bank formerly known as Anglo Irish Bank) has for some time stood head and shoulders above the rest. And we all know the problem with sticking your neck out in this manner.
So it came to pass that, during scenes of what passes for high political drama, our brave leaders decapitated the beast. In the late hours of a wet Dublin night the Government introduced emergency legislation to immediately place IBRC in liquidation. The Act fittingly contains some extraordinary provisions - a number of which will keep the legal profession busy for some time to come.
Stay of proceedings
The most eye-catching of these is the provision that places an immediate stay on all proceedings against the bank. Not surprisingly the Government didn’t do the decent thing and halt all legal proceedings by the bank against errant borrowers. This of course has left a number of high profile litigants in something of a twilight zone and at the time of preparation of this press speculation is rife that the Government may be forced into a climb down on this provision. Constitutional lawyers meanwhile are sharpening their quills.
As an aside, the Government also felt it necessary to provide that, during this dramatic legislative manoeuvre, notwithstanding their appointment to the biggest liquidation gig in town, the Official Liquidator to IBRC would not be precluded from also acting as receiver to any underlying receiverships that might fall out of the bank. Was it really going to be that difficult to fill the job? In the event they found not one but two people more than willing to step up to the plate.
Sale of loan book
Next up will be a sale of the loan book by the liquidators to one or more of the many funds camped on our borders. Whatever is then left will transfer in mid-2013 to that other favourite child of the crisis – the National Asset Management Agency or NAMA. After a difficult birth which involved NAMA performing the herculean task of consuming some €75 billion of loans in record time and with limited resources, the Agency is ahead of its cash flow targets and confounding its critics. What the hard working citizens of NAMA feel about consuming a further potential €15 billion of IBRC loans for dessert is anyone’s guess. It puts in perspective a small bit of alien substance in your beef burger when you think about it.
Ireland's lose is Brian's gain
All of this coincided with the arrival in Dublin of the English rugby team and with Brian O’Driscoll lining up for what might be his last home match against the English, a home victory was guaranteed. The nation held its breath while BOD’s young wife went into labour in a Dublin hospital during the night preceding the game – would the future of the Irish back line be secured? Mrs O’Driscoll promptly produced a bouncing baby girl to the nation’s delight but the (male) IRFU’s secret anguish. As if to confirm this dark view for the future of Irish rugby the team promptly rolled over in the mud and allowed Chris Robshaw et al to tickle their collective bellies.
Meanwhile, up in the stands and sheltering from the rain and the spectacle on the pitch, clutches of IBRC borrowers, large and small, stood anxiously whispering about their fate. Many were enjoying the traditional corporate hospitality on offer. Many, it must be said, courtesy of their grateful and attentive friends in the legal profession.