Kilkenny man Tony Lawlor is celebrating after Bank of Ireland he was fined 100 million euros for denying him and 16,000 others good-value mortgages.
I have been waiting for this day when the Bank of Ireland is fined for years,” he said.
Lawlor has been fighting the bank for 12 years trying to restore a tracker mortgage.
The retired registered paramedic claims he had a tracker for six years, but alleges the Bank of Ireland changed its terms and conditions in 2010, forcing him into a more expensive variable rate.
He claimed before the Oireachtas Finance Committee that the bank engaged in a “reign of terror” by removing him and other customers from tracker mortgages.
“All of a sudden, in 2010, the follow-up rate disappeared.
“The bank told me I never had a tracker.
“I said ‘what do you mean I’ve been on a tracker for six years?'”
He says the bank then denied him the right to appeal, causing him to go into default.
He is still fighting the bank.
But he has had to stop paying his mortgage because the cost has been too much for him.
Mr Lawlor (60) had to take early retirement from the HSE in 2014 after suffering a heart attack while attending the scene of a multiple accident in Co Carlow.
In personal written testimony before the Oireachtas Finance Committee, he claimed that the Bank of Ireland has engaged in “underground tactics” in mortgages, causing harm to people in the name of profit.
He claimed the bank relied on redacted documents, withheld relevant documents, “misrepresented” the terms of the original contract, and produced a mortgage deed that triggered civil proceedings to possess his family’s home.
Lawlor, who has a law degree, said the bank “unilaterally and fundamentally changed its mortgage contract without consent of any kind,” applied a higher interest rate above the current ECB as stated in the contract.
However, his case to obtain a tracer was rejected by both the Circuit and Superior Courts.
“This totally changed my life,” Lawlor told the committee.
He said the saga meant he ended up in default for the first time in his life pushing him into an unnecessary default.
“The impact on me personally during this reign of terror where the bank defended the indefensible, delayed the inevitable and denied the obvious, is like living through hell on earth for me.
“You stare financial ruin square in the face and live with the real and present risk that homelessness will destroy you as a person with a dreaded visit from a sheriff or private security company to evict you from your family home,” Lawlor told the committee.
Lawlor has vowed to continue fighting the bank.
The Bank of Ireland said it does not comment on individual cases.
But he said that for any client facing financial difficulties, he tries to find a sustainable solution.
“We can find a sustainable solution in the vast majority of cases, but when a mortgage goes unpaid for many years, legal action is sadly the last resort.
“This action is only taken after all other options have been exhausted.”
The bank said that in their rulings on the foreclosure proceedings in this case, both the Circuit and the Superior Court confirmed that this mortgage is not a tracer mortgage.