Cinema group director loses first round in legal battle
A REQUEST by Paul Ward, a director of the Ward Anderson cinema group, that Dublin Cinema Group cover the costs of his planned action against the company, was rejected yesterday by the High Court.
Mr Ward sought to take a derivative action – an action taken on behalf of a company by a shareholder – centring on Mr Anderson’s chairmanship of Dublin Cinema Group.
It is not yet clear if Mr Ward will now proceed with the action.
Mr Ward is set to argue that Mr Anderson’s role as chairman restricts Mr Ward’s rights as a minority shareholder.
Dublin Cinema Group, which owns the Savoy Cinema and Screen Cinema groups in Dublin, is owned by the Ward and Anderson families. Yesterday’s court hearing was the first stage in what could be a lengthy legal battle between the two cousins.
In response to Mr Ward’s action, Mr Anderson is seeking a petition to wind up the company and liquidate its assets, which is expected to be heard early next month.
Paul Ward is the son of Leo Ward, who founded the Ward Anderson cinema group with his half-brother Kevin Anderson, the father of the current chairman of Dublin Cinema Group, Paul Anderson.
The company was founded by the half-brothers in 1949.
The legal dispute over the control and management of the Savoy cinema follows months of negotiations between Mr Ward and Mr Anderson.
Rumours that a review of the future of the Screen and Savoy cinemas was under way abounded in recent months amid falling numbers.
Dublin Cinema Group is just one strand of the sprawling cinema interests of Ward Anderson, which is also involved in Omniplex and Cineplex.
Overall the families are estimated to control about 50 per cent of the cinema market in Ireland. Ward Anderson also has a significant presence in the UK.
The current legal dispute only relates to Dublin Cinema Group.
Paul Anderson is also behind the proposed development of a new cinema at the top of Stephen’s Green shopping centre.