If people could simply get rid of a mortgage debt by putting it in a trust hundreds of thousands of Irish people would do that.

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A Co. Wexford couple who stopped making repayments on their €200,000 mortgage five years ago, claiming their family home was owned by a private trust, have lost a High Court bid to overturn a possession order. The Judge said the defendants, representing themselves, had failed to engage at all with Start Mortgages DAC or with any of the free services to help people in mortgage arrears, such as the Money Advice Budgeting Services or the Free Legal Advice Centres. They seemed instead to have been “duped” into paying money to anonymous “advisers” with no legal expertise to advance “nonsense pseudo legal arguments” in challenging Start’s entitlement to possession, she said. She deplored such an approach which “only makes a bad situation worse” and exposes people to more costs. The defendants had raised some 29 technical legal objections and filed a very large number of affidavits in this case but never disputed they had taken out the mortgage loan and failed to engage with the bank and the relevant services, she said. The entire thrust of their defence was to try and find a “legal loophole” as a means of escape from a loan they had voluntarily entered. “I deplore that approach,” she said. During the hearing, one of the defendants made no attempt to engage with the points made by Start and seemed to have relied on “advice” given “behind closed doors” in a “scatter-gun” approach raising many issues, some of which did not even apply to this case and were “red herrings”. She rejected all those points, including that the Circuit Court lacked jurisdiction to make the possession order, breaches of European Directives, and that the property is owned by a “private irrevocable trust”. If people could simply get rid of a mortgage debt by putting it in a trust, she was sure hundreds of thousands of Irish people would do that, she remarked.