Date set for Taggart brothers’ trial

Michael Taggart (left) and John Taggart
Michael Taggart (left) and John Taggart

Two former housebuilding tycoons’ multi-million pound legal battle with a bank will not begin until May, a judge announced yesterday.

Mr Justice Burgess set a new date for the trial after receiving medical confirmation of John Taggart’s ongoing health problems.

Mr Taggart and his brother Michael are suing the Ulster Bank for alleged negligence they say contributed to the collapse of their property empire.

A counter-claim has been filed against them over personally guaranteed borrowings.

A three-week trial was set to start at the High Court in Belfast earlier this month, only to be put on hold due to John Taggart’s illness.

No details of his condition have been disclosed.

But Mr Justice Burgess yesterday said he had received a doctor’s letter which set out how Mr Taggart is continuing to receive “fairly high-level treatment”.

He added: “The matter was for the court to be satisfied there are genuine issues in order to allay any possible scepticism there might be on the part of anybody.

“The issues are real and the court has had to recognise that.”

The case has now been forced to adjourn twice just as it was due to be heard.

In September last year it was put back after the Taggarts dismissed their previous legal team.

The brothers, once described as the richest businessmen in Ireland, are suing the Ulster Bank for alleged negligence and improper conduct.

At one time the Taggart Group was among Northern Ireland’s largest housebuilders, with operations in England and the Republic of Ireland.

But it collapsed during the property crash in 2008, costing creditors hundreds of millions of pounds.

In a counter claim, Ulster Bank has lodged writs for £5million (sterling) and e4.3million it claims the brothers owe in personal guarantees.

Confirming the new scheduled trial date of May 6, Mr Justice Burgess said he was taking the interests of both sides into consideration.