Cinema owners settle court dispute
The dispute between two families who own the Dublin Cinema Group (DCG) has been settled at the High Court.
Mr Justice Peter Charleton was told yesterday that following a proposal concerning how the company could be split between the Ward and Anderson families, a settlement agreed between them is to be put in writing. On that basis, the matter was adjourned to next March when, the judge was told, it could be struck out.
The High Court heard on Thursday an offer had been made on behalf of the Ward family to settle the winding-up proceedings against DCG which had been brought by the Anderson family.
The dispute between the families had arisen over a proposal to open new cinemas in St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, and the proceedings were transferred to the Commercial Court late last year. When agreeing to fast-track the case, Mr Justice Peter Kelly had urged mediation of what he described as this “extraordinarily bitter” dispute.
While he could not compel mediation, the festering of such a bitter commercial dispute in the courts was of no benefit to anyone, the judge added.
The two families own the Savoy and Screen in Dublin’s city centre along with Omniplexes in Santry and Cork and another cinema in Tullamore, Co Offaly. DCG director and secretary Paul Ward had brought proceedings against DCG chairman Paul Anderson and another company, Omniplex Holdings, alleging Mr Anderson had breached his fiduciary duties and was acting contrary to the best interests of DCG by moving to open in Stephen’s Green.
That move would adversely affect the Savoy and Screen, Mr Ward argued.
Separately, Mr Anderson brought winding-up proceedings against DCG. He contended, because of the breakdown in relationships, that the liquidation and sell-off of the profitable cinema business would be in the best interests of the firm.
Following a number of failed attempts at mediation, the winding-up case got under way on Wednesday, and there were talks on Thursday. Yesterday Mr Justice Charleton was told all proceedings were to be resolved under the settlement.
Employees of the Savoy, Dublin’s oldest cinema, and the Screen had appealed to the judge not to wind up DCG.
Declan McGrath SC, for Mr Ward, said two letters had been written on behalf of many of the Savoy and Screen’s 38 employees urging the court not to liquidate the company. The letters said the workers were worried for their futures and concerned that the Savoy, opened in 1929 and O’Connell Street’s last cinema, would close.