Dunnes Stores is not happy with the quality of the architecture of a communal square in the Point Village development in Dublin’s docklands, the Commercial Court has heard. Dunnes has brought proceedings against Point Village Development Ltd (PVDL) asking that “Point Square” be completed in accordance with a clause in an agreement on the development. It says the clause requires that the work on the square be of a “first-class standard appropriate to a prestigious shopping centre”, similar to Eyre Square in Galway, Grand Canal Square Dublin, and Dundrum Town Centre Civic Plaza.
The proceedings are in the context of a long-running dispute between the receivers of PVDL and the retailer about the opening of a Dunnes anchor store in the development.
The completion of Point Square is to be a milestone in relation to a previous settlement between the parties whereby €3 million will be released to PVDL from a joint escrow account.
Dunnes contends, however, that PVDL has failed, refused, or neglected to ensure that Point Square is completed to the standard required by the development agreement and it is asking the court to determine the issue.
PVDL says the square has been finished for several years and Dunnes was claiming that two years since it first raised the issue, the work was not “sufficiently aesthetically pleasing”. PVDL says Dunnes has not suffered any loss or damage as a result.
An application by PVDL to bring contempt proceedings against Dunnes for the alleged noncompliance with previous court orders requiring it to carry out a fit-out of the anchor store is to be heard by the Commercial Court in July. In seeking to have the latest case admitted to that court, Martin Hayden SC for Dunnes said his client does “not have to open any store” until the work is completed to standard, regardless of whether the store is fitted out.
John Lavelle, for PVDL, opposed the entry of the case to the commercial list saying there was no commercial urgency and because of delay by Dunnes in bringing proceedings. He said this was in the context of litigation spanning 13 years, with the Point Square issue dating back nine years and Dunnes being in breach of its obligations to fit out the anchor store since 2016. Despite final court orders on the fit-out matter, the retailer has still not taken any steps in that direction and its counsel had made it clear it has no intention of trading even if it fits out the store. It says it is entitled to immediately close the new store if it wants, he said.
Mr Justice Denis McDonald admitted the proceedings to the fast-track commercial list on Monday. He said it was in everyone’s interests that the matter of whether the dispute should be sent for expert determination should be resolved as soon as possible. It was “really a very unhappy picture” where there had been so much litigation between two commercial entities in relation to a development of this kind, he said.