Bank of Ireland launches legal claim against former William Fry chief

The Bank of Ireland has launched a lawsuit against an Irish lawyer and his wife in a bid to recoup €69.5m in property loans and interest.

Brian O’Donnell and his wife Mary Patricia O’Donnell have a substantial international property portfolio including buildings in London, Stockholm and Washington DC as well as Ireland. O’Donnell was managing partner at William Fry until he left the firm in 1999 to set up Brian O’Donnell Solicitors

Bank of Ireland is claiming that the couple have defaulted on interest payments on loans. In court in Dublin this week Mr Justice Peter Kelly granted an application by the bank for a summary judgment hearing in the Irish commercial court. The hearing will take place in March.

The O’Donnells’ property portfolio is managed by London-based Vico Capital, which is understood to have assets worth over €1.1bn (£929m). The company has taken out loans worth €800m (£675m) with a number of banks to finance its investments.

Properties owned by Vico include two Canary Wharf buildings and a Pennsylvania Avenue office in Washington DC that is partially let to US firm Holland & Knight.

The O’Donnells are understood to be substantial shareholders in Vico, although there are also other investors. A source close to the couple said their international assets would not be affected by the Bank of Ireland lawsuit. 

O’Donnell has instructed barrister Maurice Collins SC to appear in court on the case. Irish firm Arthur Cox is representing the Bank of Ireland and has instructed Paul Gardiner SC.

A spokesperson for the O’Donnells declined to comment on the case. A Bank of Ireland spokesperson said the bank was also not commenting.