Further education college decision overturned in court

The Court of Appeal has overturned a High Court decision that would’ve allowed the liquidator of a third-level college for foreign students to be replaced by one chosen by students of the college.

The court found that Anthony J Fitzpatrick was the duly appointed liquidator of Eden Further Education Ltd, which operates Eden College in Dublin. Close to 200 students and other creditors of the college also had their claim to recover €300,000 worth of fees disallowed as the court ruled that these were claims in the liquidation.

Eden College closed in April 2014 due to cashflow difficulties and was removed from a list of approved colleges by Irish immigration authorities.

The students were opposed to the appointment of Mr Fitzpatrick after he was chosen by the director of Eden Further Education, Fakir Mohammad Zakir Hossain, who also chaired the meeting with the college’s creditors.

Mr Justice Gerard Hogan said that Mr Hossain was correct in appointing Fitzpatrick as liquidator because there was no method of putting a correct figure on the amount owed to the 190 students and other creditors, meaning that amount could not be included as a liquidated claim. As the student’s claims were not included, their votes were not counted in the decision on a liquidator.

Declan DeLacy was nominated by the students and two other creditors, the Revenue Commissioners and Dublin City Council, to be the liquidator for Eden College. A challenge was brought to the High Court to have Mr DeLacy replace Mr Fitzpatrick as liquidator.

Students paid Eden Further Education over €2,500 for a 52 week course but only got 26 weeks of tuition in the college. The student who brought the case to the court argued she was owed €1,386 by Eden Further Education as were other students in the same position.

The initial High Court action from the students was not against Mr Fitzpatrick but against Mr Hossain, who they say did not accept the rights of creditors when voting on liquidation.

Kevin Kelly

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