Aircraft Leasing Dispute Raises Issue Of The Remedy Of Summary Judgement For Non-Liquidated Sums

In Abbey International Finance Limited v. Point Ireland Helicopters Limited and Elitaliana S.p.A1 the High Court in Ireland (the "Court") considered whether a plaintiff can seek summary judgement for non-liquidated sums such as delivery up of an aircraft on default and termination of an aircraft lease. The Court considered the availability of summary judgement procedures to litigants in Ireland as a means of speedy resolution of disputes where it can be shown that the defendant lacks a reasonable prospect of success.

The judgement in the case was delivered ex-tempore by Mr Justice Kelly on 27 July 2012.

Background Abbey, a limited liability Irish company was engaged in the business of aircraft leasing. Abbey agreed to lease three (3) helicopters (the "Aircraft") and a medical kit to Point Ireland Helicopters ("Point")2. Point subleased the Aircraft and medical kit to Elitaliana SpA. The defendants defaulted in payment of rent under the leases and subleases and the leases contained usual "hell or high water clauses", absolute obligations and no deduction provisions. The defendants accepted that arrears of €3,195,000 were owed.

The Court, commented that it would be difficult to conceive more "watertight obligations to pay rent in accordance with the terms of the lease". Abbey served notice of termination of the leases and subleases and went about exercising its rights under the security assignments. Shortly afterwards it commenced proceedings.

Abbey sought both liquidated amounts and substantive relief in respect of the Aircraft and medical kit, in particular an order for specific delivery up of the Aircraft and the medical kit to Abbey. Given the mix of reliefs, Abbey opted to proceed by way of plenary summons.

Abbey contended that there was no defence to any aspect of the claim and therefore brought a motion seeking summary judgement on the entire of its claim - the liquidated and non-liquidated sums - and sought summary judgement for the monies due and delivery up of the aircraft. Alternatively, Abbey sought injunctive relief.

The first issue was whether or not it is open to Abbey to bring a claim for summary judgement in respect of non-liquidated sums.

Jurisdiction of the Court Kelly J. looked at the procedural steps to judgement for liquidated and non-liquidated sums. He noted that in proceedings for liquidated sums, a judgement may be marked against defendant in default of appearance or defence. A defendant is permitted to put his...

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