Money Markets International Stockbrokers Ltd -v- Barnes, [2008] IEHC 181 (2008)

Docket Number:2000 780 & 791 S
Party Name:Money Markets International Stockbrokers Ltd, Barnes
Judge:McMahon J.






KEVIN BARNESDEFENDANTJudgment of Mr. Justice Bryan McMahon delivered the 13th day of June, 2008

In these cases the plaintiff liquidator claims that monies are owed and due to him from the defendants in the amounts specified in the summary summons.

The background to the two cases is similar and both cases were heard together. I will first deal with the case of Kevin Barnes. The plaintiff alleges that Kevin Barnes, who is an employee in a University sports complex, is an experienced trader in the stock market and that he had an account with the plaintiff company now in liquidation for many years. The plaintiff alleges that Mr. Barnes dealt with high risk shares and oil shares in particular, and personally communicated with the plaintiff company on a very regular basis, sometimes up to three times a day. Not only did Kevin Barnes deal on his own behalf, but he also introduced many other clients to the company. The plaintiff alleges that Kevin Barnes conveyed instructions to the plaintiff company with regard to purchasing and selling on behalf of these other clients as well as giving instructions in relation to his own account. In effect he, according to Mr. O'Reilly who was responsible for Kevin Barnes's account, in the plaintiff company, acted as agent for these persons in conveying their instructions to Mr. O'Reilly.

According to the plaintiff, Kevin Barnes owed the company the sum of 69,750. The sum mentioned in the summons is somewhat larger, but the plaintiffs indicated at the hearing that the real claim was for 69,750 only. This sum is made up of the balance due when the credit in the Irish punt account in Kevin Barnes's name is offset against the debit in his sterling account on the date when the company went into liquidation, that is the 23rd March, 1999. In the case of John Barnes the sum claimed amounts of the equivalent IR£58,764.60 in euro. .

Mr. Colm O'Reilly, who is a Stock Broker since 1974 and who was primarily responsible for handling both defendants accounts, gave evidence that all the necessary documentation was signed by the defendants when they first opened their accounts. He also identified all the individual contract notes executed in respect of the relevant transactions over the period in question. These were notes which recorded the dates of the purchase and sale of various shares and the prices paid and received in respect of these transactions. Quarterly accounts were also produced for the defendants and these were also proved by Mr. O'Reilly. Kevin Barnes opened his accounts with the plaintiff company as far back as 1990. From then until the date when the company went into liquidation he actively engaged in buying and selling shares.

Kevin Barnes's defence to the claim was based on three allegations:

(1) He claimed that he had made a full and final settlement of all monies outstanding at a meeting in August, 1998 at McCluskey's pub where he paid over monies amounting to £100,000.

(2) He claimed that instructions he gave in October,1997 that all his Dana oil shares were to be sold was not carried out and therefore the plaintiff company was in breach of its obligations to Mr. Barnes in that regard.(3) He claimed that monies which were owing to him should have been repaid from other accounts into his own account and that he was entitled to claim these monies due to him as a setoff in the present proceedings.I will address each of these defences in turn. In or around August, 1998, Kevin Barnes's account was in arrears and he was being pressed for payment by the plaintiffs. At that time he owed somewhere in the region of IR£130,000. Responding to the pressure Kevin Barnes paid £30,000 and he raised another £100,000 by re-mortgaging his house. He brought this bank draft for £100,000 by appointment to McCluskey's pub and he handed the money over to Mr. O'Reilly and Mr. Fanning for the company. This was not disputed by the plaintiff. Kevin Barnes, however, states that this was an end to the matter as far as he was concerned and he indicated to Mr. O'Reilly and Mr. Fanning that he was "out of it" then. He alleges that these payments were in full and final settlement of what he owed and that his relationship with the plaintiff company was at an end.

It is difficult to accept Mr. Barnes's evidence that this was the effect of what happened on that day for two reasons: first, Mr. Barnes had "extended" accounts with the plaintiff company, which in effect gave Mr. Barnes credit for 90 days in respect of certain transactions, but which had to be settled on the 90th day at the latest. On the day when the parties met in McCluskey's pub, Mr. Barnes's liability under these accounts was...

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