Former operator of National Aquatic Centre claims €30m in losses and damages

Dublin Waterworld Ltd suing National Sports Campus Development Authority

The National Aquatic Centre at Abbotstown in Dublin. Dublin Waterworld Ltd entered into a lease in 2003 to operate the centre but a dispute later arose about whether VAT was payable on the lease. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

The National Aquatic Centre at Abbotstown in Dublin. Dublin Waterworld Ltd entered into a lease in 2003 to operate the centre but a dispute later arose about whether VAT was payable on the lease. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Mon, Jun 17, 2013, 19:16

The former operator of the National Aquatic Centre is claiming more than €30 million losses and damages over being pursued by a State-owned company for years to pay some €10 million VAT under the centre’s lease until that claim was abandoned in 2010.

Dublin Waterworld Ltd (DWL) claims documents obtained under freedom-of-information legislation show Campus Stadium Ireland Development Ltd (CSID), the since-dissolved State company that developed the aquatic centre, pursued the VAT claim in an “alarming” manner and despite advice it was not acting in strict compliance with VAT legislation in valuation of the lease for the centre.

DWL entered into a lease with CSID in 2003 to operate the centre but a dispute later arose about whether VAT was payable on the lease. DWL claims documents show CSID in 2002 received advice from the Revenue Valuation Office to the effect the €35 million open-market value of the lease was less than the €60 million “economic value”, making the lease VAT exempt.

The VAT battle and associated threats of restriction orders against DWL directors resulted, the company claims, in it later having to abandon plans for water-based property developments in England, Spain, Prague and Bulgaria, with consequent estimated losses of more than €30 million.

DWL is suing the National Sports Campus Development Authority, as legal successor to CSID.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly yesterday granted an application by Brian O’Moore SC, for DWL, to have the case fast-tracked in the Commercial Court.