Clare Council Council has suffered a setback in its ongoing legal row with a private firm over its €10 million annually Cliffs of Moher visitor centre business.
This follows the Court of Appeal overturning a High Court ruling that there had been an inexcusable delay in park and ride firm, Diamrem Ltd bringing court proceedings against the council concerning the operation of the council car park that serves the visitor attraction.
As a result, Ms Justice Nuala Butler directed Diamrem promptly lodge a fresh statement of claim concerning its legal dispute with the council.
The council-owned Cliffs of Moher visitor operation generated annual revenues of €9.7 million before the pandemic, with the bulk of income made from the car-park fees at the visitor attraction.
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In her judgment, Ms Justice Butler records how Diamrem purchased lands and constructed two Cliffs of Moher park-and-ride car parks for Liscannor and Doolin in 2010 and entered a contract with the council to operate the buses along these routes to serve the Cliffs of Moher.
This followed negotiations with the council about putting in place park-and-ride facilities.
However, Diamrem states that it was unable to operate its park-and-ride business on an economic basis because the council continues to operate its own large 480 space car park at the Cliffs of Moher.
Diamrem claims that the continued use of the car park is unauthorised and Ms Justice Butler stated that needless to say, the council “does not agree with this characterisation of events”.
Crucially, Ms Justice Butler says, the council contends that the provision of park-and-ride facilities was not a condition of the 2002 grant of planning permission for the visitor centre.
Ms Justice Butler said that “these disputed facts have already given rise to three sets of litigation”, with Diamrem issuing its first set of proceedings in 2016.
As part of the three-judge ruling on Diamrem’s successful appeal, Ms Justice Butler awarded costs against the council.
Ms Justice Butler has made an order awarding Diamrem’s costs of the appeal to include the costs of the High Court and an order setting aside all of the other costs orders.