O'Driscoll water order granted

Tue, Jul 10, 2012, 01:00

IRISH RUGBY captain Brian O’Driscoll and a number of other owners of holiday homes in Co Wexford are entitled to have water supply restored to their properties once they pay €2,000 each to a management company, a High Court judge ruled yesterday.

Mr O’Driscoll is among the owners of 32 houses that are part of the Seafield Demesne Hotel and Golf development, Ballymoney, where there has been a dispute with Seafield Demesne Management (SDM) Ltd over the amount of the annual service charge.

Properties used as holiday homes, but not those permanently occupied, had their water supply cut off last March, the High Court previously heard. There are 60 houses in the development.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Kevin Feeney granted the owners of 32 of the houses an injunction ordering SDM not to interfere with the water and sewage services to the houses.

He ordered SDM to restore the water supply within seven days to those properties that were cut off once payment of €2,000 is made by each of them to SDM.

The owners had offered to pay that amount, totalling €64,000, at the beginning of the injunction hearing and pending the outcome of the full legal proceedings.

The court heard some €207,000 had been paid to date under protest by the owners into their own solicitor’s account, covering four years of charges up to 2011. That sum, SDM claimed, was the minimum amount owed to it.

The judge said the €64,000 should come out of this €207,000 while the remaining €143,000 should be lodged in a joint account between solicitors for both parties pending resolution of the dispute.

The court heard separate proceedings had been brought in Wexford Circuit Court by SDM against the owners over alleged arrears. The owners counter-claimed in the same court against SDM.

The judge heard efforts were being made to resolve the matter through mediation.

In their injunction application, the owners contended SDM had failed to properly itemise and justify the charges it imposed.

SDM argued the charges were agreed when the houses were purchased.

In his ruling yesterday, Mr Justice Feeney said there was a lower risk of an injustice in granting the injunction requiring restoration of water supply, rather than in refusing it.