No precedent for bid to appoint inspector for Christmas tree company, High Court hears

An investor’s request to appoint a taxpayer-funded inspector for a Christmas tree company is ‘unprecedented’, the High Court has heard.

The attorney for the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) said there appears to be no previous case where the applicant seeking the appointment of an inspector for a company has been anyone other than the ODCE or the Attorney General.

By deviating from the status quo, this application to WFS Forestry Ireland Ltd is “breaking new ground”, said Neil Steen SC for the ODCE.

The “overwhelming” evidence, the attorney said, was that this company was “desperately insolvent” on its balance sheet and because it was unable to pay its debts when they came due.

A more appropriate approach to the situation, the lawyer said, might be to appoint an insolvency practitioner.

The ODCE did not oppose the request but is interested in the legal developments that may arise from this case.

Mr Steen asked the court to pay attention to whether the issues raised were of public or private concern. The taxpayer foots the bill for an inspection, although the cost may be recouped while the company’s creditors shoulder at least some of the burden of liquidation, he said.

The applicant in this case, John Kearney, and the 17 other alleged investors supporting his application are primarily interested in getting their money back, Mr Steen said.

They invested in a limited company in hopes of substantial returns, and there was a risk involved, he said.

“The applicant seeks to shift that risk from the creditors to the taxpayer,” he added.

Investors say WFS Forestry, of registered office at Fitzwilliam Business Centre, 26/27 Pembroke Street, Dublin 2, has not delivered the returns it promised. They claim that false information was given to them and that they were sold shares in forest lands that do not exist. The claims are disputed. No precedent for bid to appoint inspector for Christmas tree company, High Court hears

Fry Electronics Team

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