Bank admits ‘catastrophic error’ cost customer her family home

By March 11, 2020 No Comments

A woman lost her family home and was adjudicated a bankrupt after Bank of Ireland (BoI) charged her more than twice what she should have been paying on her mortgage, the High Court heard.

Deirdre Dennis said she was left financially crippled and personally devastated by the level of overcharging on her monthly repayments, between June 2012 and December 2017, to BoI.

She is now asking the court to annul the bankruptcy petition she made in October 2017 in an effort to deal with what she believed were her debts.

Her counsel Eoin McGonigal SC said while BoI admitted a “catastrophic error” in her case, it came after she had exited bankruptcy in October 2018, and after her former family home at Seaview Terrace, Killala, Co Mayo, had been sold by the bank.

In February 2019, counsel said, BoI wrote to Ms Dennis after it had completed a review of her mortgage under their Tracker Mortgage Examination. In its correspondence BoI accepted, acknowledged and unreservedly apologised for failing to provide her with a tracker mortgage at a time when she was entitled to one.

BoI said she was entitled to compensation, redress and a refund of interest charged and accepted the bank’s failure was a factor in her losing her home.

It also withdrew its claim in her bankruptcy of amounts totalling €115,000.

Ms Dennis has applied to the High Court to have her bankruptcy annulled.

Counsel said when seeking to be adjudicated a bankrupt she believed she owed BoI some €171,000 on foot of loans taken with the bank. Her then home was valued at €73,000.

She also had additional debts of €66,000 owed to Revenue and another financial institution.

She claims that had she all the relevant information from BoI in October 2017 she would not have sought to be adjudicated a bankrupt.

The court was told the bankruptcy trustee was not opposing the annulment application.

BoI did not wish to make any submissions to the court, Ms Justice Teresa Pilkington was told.

In a sworn statement, Ms Dennis said she spent years “fighting to keep my head above water”.

Despite her struggles, including her business failing in 2008, she always tried to maintain her mortgage payments as best she could.

She said she pleaded with BoI to apply a common sense approach to the level of her repayments and made many personal sacrifices.

In 2014 she said she had to stop making repayments and left the property which was in negative equity. In 2015 BoI sought an order for repossession of her family home so it could sell the property, which she consented to.

In early 2019 BoI admitted it had overcharged her.

She now rents a property at Killala Road, Ballina, Co Mayo, which she says she ended up paying twice as much for than she been paying the mortgage for the previous home she was “forced” to leave.

She could not understand why her account was not examined sooner, or why BoI continued to pursue possession proceedings against her in 2015 when it should have known her loan account would come under examination.

Ms Justice Pilkington, after hearing legal submissions and noting it was “a very unusual case”, reserved her decision.

Irish Independent