EU ruling protects developer Bernard McNamara’s pension from creditors

Boom-era property player Bernard McNamara’s multi-million euro pension pot is protected from his creditors following an EU court ruling.

The British high court declared Mr McNamara bankrupt in 2012 on his own application.

He was one of many Irish developers who opted to bankrupt themselves in the UK, where the bankruptcy period was one year, rather than in the Republic, where it was 12 years at the time.

The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that creditors cannot get access to an insurance policy that was part of his Irish-registered pension.

The policy was worth €8.4 million according to some estimates, although Mr McNamara disputed this.

British courts referred the issue to Europe before the UK left the EU on December 31st last year.


The British court asked EU judges to clarify whether or not Mr McNamara’s pension scheme benefitted from a rule in British law that protected pension schemes from creditors in bankruptcy cases, even though he had registered the plan in the Republic.

Trustees responsible for overseeing Mr McNamara’s bankruptcy claimed that the insurance policy should be vested in them for the benefit of the bankrupt estate, meaning proceeds could ultimately be distributed to creditors.

The EU Court of Justice ruled that requiring Mr McNamara to register his penion in the UK, in order to benefit from the protection under that jurisdiction’s bankruptcy law, would limit the developer’s right under European law, to establish his own business in any member state.

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