Sean Quinn’s wife ordered to repay €3million loan

In the latest instalment of the continuing complicated legal battle between Sean Quinn and the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), formerly Anglo Irish Bank, Sean Quinn’s wife has been ordered to repay an over €3million loan which she had personally guaranteed.

Patricia Quinn’s lawyers had argued that she had been ‘unduly influenced’ by her husband into signing the loan agreement. 

Mrs Quinn said it was her habit to sign documents put in front of her by her husband or his colleagues in the Quinn group of companies.

She claims that she does not possess any sophistication or even basic knowledge in business matters, adding that this was embarrassing to admit but it was the truth.

IBRC described Mrs Quinn’s claims as not credible.

Patricia Quinn was a director of 63 Irish companies and was a company secretary of ten others.

IBRC also told the court that Mrs Quinn held directorships of another 28 UK companies.

Additionally, as an Irish Times report noted

Mrs Quinn argues she has a defence on several grounds to the bank’s claim entitling her to a full hearing. She claims she never realised she had signed up for the loan, never received the benefit of if and never received any legal advice before signing the loan documents.

In affidavits, Mrs Quinn took issue with the bank’s description of her as a business lady and said she has been a homemaker for the past 36 years, looking after her husband and children since she married at the age of 21.

She never worked with the Quinn group of companies and was never involved in any business or financial dealings “beyond deciding upon the weekly groceries and providing for the household expenses”.

She only became aware of the loan facility and demand for repayment after this case was taken, she said. When bank documents came to her home, she would give them to her husband or send them to the Quinn Group headquarters.

As today’s Irish Times reports

Mr Justice Peter Kelly rejected arguments by Patricia Quinn that she was not obliged to repay the €3 million loan made jointly to herself and her husband in late 2006 on grounds she is a homemaker, and unduly influenced by her husband who regularly signed documents he put in front of her without reading them.

Having dismissed those and other arguments, he entered summary judgment for €3,059,951 plus costs against Mrs Quinn, and also refused her lawyer’s application for a stay on his order.

Since the since the middle of the 18th century, the law allowed for no presumption of undue influence between a wife and husband, and there was also no actual evidence of undue influence by Mr Quinn over Mrs Quinn, such as bullying behaviour, Mr Justice  Kelly said.

The judge quoted from another High Court judge, the late Miss Justice Mella Carroll, who had said in another case 25 years ago, the day was long past when married women could be classified akin to infants and persons of unsound mind and evade liability by arguing they were only concerned with minding their house and children.

He rejected Mrs Quinn’s other claims of a defence on grounds she did not understand what she was signing and did not benefit from the €3 million loan. The truth is, he said, Mrs Quinn gave no thought to what she was signing but that could not be a defence.

What could be more negligent than “willy-nilly” signing legal documents without any thought to their nature and effect?, the judge asked. Even a glance at these documents would have made clear to all but the illiterate they related to a borrowing transaction, he added.

And from the RTÉ report

[ Justice Kelly] also said Mrs Quinn’s lawyers had argued that there was a presumption of undue influence in the relationship between husband and wife.

There was not, he said, and had not been since 1750.

Mr Justice Kelly said there was no evidence of undue influence by Seán Quinn.

He said there was no evidence that Mrs Quinn suffered from an intellectual disability, a mental illness or cognitive impairment and there was no evidence at all of threats or bullying by her husband.

In relation to Mrs Quinn’s argument that she did not receive the money, the judge said whether it was used to complete the decoration of the Quinn home or for something else was a matter for the borrowers.

The loan was drawn down at the direction of Mr Quinn, and was used.

He said if Mrs Quinn did not consider that she got value from the borrowing, then that was a complaint against Mr Quinn, not against the bank.

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  • Rumour has it that even Mrs Quinn’s own counsel had difficulty keeping a stony-face in delivering that little lot.

    I particularly relished (and need to check up) that bit about women having legal competence since 1750. Puts a different slant on my understanding of “coverture” and the significance of the Married Women’s Property Act of 1870.

    I also believe the Mrs Quinn defence worked in some US states down to the 1970s.

  • Today’s Irish Times ought to qualify as a serio-classic comic edition.

    That front page (see Pete Baker above) also includes the Quinn Inheritances:

    The family have said the Slieve Russell Hotel in Co Cavan has been owned by Mr Quinn’s daughter Brenda since it was built in 1990 …
    In response to queries raised by the bank about their claims, the family said it was difficult to say when Brenda Quinn became aware of her ownership of the Slieve Russell as she was about three years old when it was built.

    All right: quieten down, class! It’s not … quiver, sniffle, snort … that funny!

    Anyway, below the fold of the same page there’s Stressed-out elephants pack trunks for rejuvenation camp:

    At the rejuvenation camp the elephants will be fed massive quantities of sugarcane, coconuts and bananas laced with herbal medication and vitamins, and pampered with leisurely massages and oil baths.

    Aw, sweet!

    Then it’s straight to Frank McNally’s Irishman’s Diary for what bodes to be a dithering, diverting personal memoir, until we hit the elegiac final half dozen paragraphs. Read it, recognise a master at work, and weep.

  • wild turkey

    “she does not possess any sophistication or even basic knowledge in business matters…

    she ” was a director of 63 Irish companies and was a company secretary of ten others… held directorships of another 28 UK companies.”

    overall a tragic day for the meritocracy of the irish entrepreneurial class. three questions/

    !. which organisation(s) are taking up collections on behalf of the distressed Irish housewife
    2. often on slugger we have heard about whataboutery. this case is perhaps an example of whataboutme. in such cases, what specific irish laws preclude the use of the guillotine?
    3. did i hear the plain people of ireland say “she deserves our respect and admiration…… sorry things went belly up”?

  • tuatha

    Shorter Mrs Quinn – “I’m entitled to the benefits but no the responsibilities of an erstwhile lavish lifestyle”.

  • Harry Flashman

    I could well believe this actually.

    I’m not saying in this case it is necessarily true but I have known many family companies, even fairly large ones, where wives or siblings are listed as directors or secretaries of dozens of subsidiaries but play no role whatsoever beyond signing whichever document is put in front of them.

    It shouldn’t happen of course but it’s a fact of life. I have personal experience and know of which I speak.

  • Skinner

    The beauty and the tragedy of the Quinn empire was that it run as a family shop, that had branched out into an off licence next door, and maybe a florists across the road. A lack of sophistication can make one nimble in old-fashioned business transactions but vunerable in the world of opaque financial instruments. A bit like RBS, actually.