Barge Inn publican wins High Court dispute over reduced rent
Landlord had moved to forfeit lease and take back pub from Barge Inn Ltd
Businessman Phillip Hickey and his accountant co-director, Danny O’Connell, were told that their company, the Barge Inn Ltd, may continue to be run the pub at a vastly reduced rent without interference from its landlord.
Ms Justice Mary Laffoy said a €400,000-a-year rent for the Barge Inn, formerly owned by bankrupt billionaire Seán Quinn, had been reduced by mutual unwritten agreement to €273,000 in 2010 due to prevailing adverse economic circumstances. She said the pub, on Dublin’s Grand Canal at Charlemont Street, had been owned by a company in the Quinn Group which had leased it to the Barge Inn Limited.
Sought forfeit of lease
Ms Justice Laffoy said that after the collapse of the Quinn Group, the landlord – Quinn Hospitality Ireland Operations 3 Limited – which was the defendant in the High Court proceedings, had moved to forfeit the lease and take back the pub from the Barge Inn Ltd.
The Hickey-O’Connell- owned company had disputed the right of forfeiture over claimed rent arrears and sought a court order directing that the rent remain at its reduced level.
Ms Justice Laffoy said Quinn Group hotel operations director Colette Quinn had been involved in the unwritten 2010 rent reduction agreement, which lasts until the next rent review in April next year.
Ms Justice Laffoy said Quinn Hospitality Ireland Operations 3 Limited was not entitled to withdraw the concession it had made to accept a reduced rent of €273,000 a year while the business was adversely affected by prevailing economic circumstances.
On the evidence, she found there had been no material change to date on the capacity of the publican to generate increased turnover. She had no doubt that a yearly rent greater than €273,000 was not currently sustainable.
The court granted orders restraining the landlord from forfeiting the lease or re-entering and taking possession of the pub or increasing the rent.