Granard man denied bankruptcy in Belfast

The High Court building in Belfast. Photo: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
A businessman with an address at Granard, Co Longford has failed in his attempt to be declared bankrupt in Northern Ireland.

A businessman with an address at Granard, Co Longford has failed in his attempt to be declared bankrupt in Northern Ireland.

At a sitting of the High Court in Belfast on Monday last, a judge heard it was the second application John Alex Kane had made to secure bankruptcy status north of the border.

Mr Kane, who has a car dealership in the north Longford town, had previously been bankrupted by a Belfast court in June of last year. At the time he claimed he was living in Co Fermanagh, was in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance, had a Northern Irish bank account, and that his centre of main interests was within the jurisdiction.

However, the decision was overturned following an unprecedented intervention by the Revenue Commissioners in Ireland, who applied to have the ruling rescinded, in what is thought to be the first instance of the agency seeking to annul a bankruptcy outside of the Republic.

Under UK law, the period of bankruptcy normally lasts for one year, but in Ireland a significantly longer term of up to 12 years applies.

Mr Kane filed a second application last September.

During the proceedings, the court heard that Mr Kane is currently being pursued by Irish authorities over a tax bill in the region of €5 million.

The judge agreed that there would be “considerable advantages to Mr Kane” if he could successfully argue the court had jurisdiction over him, but ruled it did not, based on “uncontroverted and voluminous” evidence submitted by the Revenue Commissioners, which showed his main centre of interests was still in Co Longford.

When making her ruling, the judge said: “For the reasons given, I find therefore that Mr Kane’s COMI as at June 21, 2012 lay in the Republic of Ireland and that his move to Northern Ireland for self-serving purposes amounted only to a change in his personal circumstances, rather than a change in his COMI.”

In 2009, Mr Kane was jailed in Ireland for contempt of court, after he misled the Revenue Commissioners and the courts about the extent of his assets.