Couple owed €134,000 by doctor claim exclusion from debt settlement unfair
Posted on 7th March 2022 at 21:00
A couple has objected to a doctor’s application for a debt settlement arrangement which would allow him to write off some €134,600 owed to them because they did not “prove” the debt within a designated time period.
The High Court heard on Monday that the arrangement for Dr Anas Mansour, whose northwest Dublin practice received the highest sum under the HSE’s medical card scheme in 2020, would see Dympna and Seamus Costello receive nothing.
The only other creditor, BMW Financial Services Ireland (DAC), would be paid its full outstanding amount of €49,568 under the proposed terms.
The court heard that Dr Mansour, of Castleknock, Dublin 15, had a judgment made against him, his business partner and his company, GP Now, in 2018 by the Costellos for the sum of €134,651, which equates to 71 per cent of his debt.
GP Now purchased the Costellos’ print business in 2012 for €268,000, but they had to pursue Dr Mansour for more than €90,000 of the fee. They initiated bankruptcy proceedings against him in 2019.
Counsel for the couple, Bernard Dunleavy SC, questioned whether the doctor, whose practice was paid €1.3 million by the HSE in 2020 and who has an annual net income of €141,000, could be considered to be insolvent.
He said it was “extraordinary” to think someone with his salary would be unable to raise finance to service the “relatively modest” debt owed to the couple.
Mr Dunleavy said the Costellos, of Durhamstown, Navan, Co Meath, have been excluded from the debt settlement arrangement process and were ineligible for a creditors’ meeting vote as the personal insolvency practitioner found they failed to prove their debt within a specified 14-day period.
He submitted that the practitioner did not follow the correct procedure in relation to the service of certain documents prior to the expiry of the two weeks.
The couple is appealing a Circuit Court judgment approving the proposed arrangement. They are objecting to the proposed arrangement on grounds alleging that certain procedural requirements of the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 were not complied with and that it unfairly prejudices the creditors’ interests as proposed.
Keith Farry BL, for the personal insolvency practitioner, said his client is independent and was simply following the “rather binary statutory process” mandated by the 2012 Act.
He said the notice of the protective certificate served on the Costellos was overlooked by their solicitor and this is “unfortunately the crucial issue” in the case.
The debt was not proved on time, he said, and the only way to prove a debt late is through an application to the court. For the High Court to “disapply the rules in this case is to run ragged over every other case”, he added.
Mr Farry said Dr Mansour is the sole earner in his household and he has three dependent children. The family lives in a rented home, he said.
Mr Justice Mark Sanfey said he would give his judgment at a later date.
Share this post: