Northern Ireland

House bidder got 'carried away'

A judge has said that a man who bid more than £1m for a house at a 2007 auction and was unable to come up with the money "got a little carried away".

The man did not even have a chequebook with him when he bid for the Ballyclare property.

His daughter paid for the £100,000 deposit, but he was then unable to complete the deal.

Mr Justice Deeney ruled that the man is required to complete the contract. That verdict is subject to an appeal.

The case was heard at the High Court in Belfast in September 2011, but details have just been published on the Courts Service website.

It involved an auction to buy a house and four acres of land on the Templepatrick Road in October 2007.

Stephen Robinson, whose address was listed as Knockagh Road, Carrickfergus, made a winning bid of £1,030,000 to buy the property from Anne and Richard Bones.

Mr Robinson then signed a memorandum of sale, witnessed by a solicitor and the auctioneer. He agreed on a completion date of 11 January 2008.

The completion date was pushed back to 1 May 2008 and Mr Robinson's daughter, Sarah, became the nominated purchaser.

That date was missed and the Bones began legal proceedings.

The judge noted that while the defence put forward by Mr Robinson has at its core been "reasonably consistent" there has been "quite a lot of variation in it in other regards".

The defence included claims that the land had not actually been sold, that the property had been falsely described at auction and that the £100,000 deposit was actually a loan.

'Remarkable allegation'

A main plank of the defence was there were no other genuine bidders at the auction.

The judge said that on the evidence presented this was "a remarkable allegation" and that he rejected it.

The judge accepted that Mr Robinson and Mr Bones had known each other for 20 years and had bought and sold vehicles to each other.

He said: "It may be that there is rather more passed between him (Mr Bones) and Stephen Robinson than he admits."

The judge suggested that Mr Robinson had maybe been "encouraged to start the bidding or something of that kind".

However, he added: "That is a long way from signing a legally binding agreement and even further from then afterwards securing and obtaining from his daughter £100,000 to be paid to solicitors as a deposit to complete the same transaction.

"Mr Bones had perhaps encouraged Mr Robinson to attend the sale which he might well have attended in any event out of interest and that Mr Robinson got a little carried away and ended up as the successful buyer of the property."

The judge also said that much of Mr Robinson's evidence was "consistent with a buyer who regrets his bargain than with some kind of false representation on the part of the vendors".

Mr Justice Deeney ruled that the Bones are entitled to enforce the contract.

An appeal by Mr Robinson is due to be heard on 20 March.