Arbitration sought in dispute between council-owned development firm and Johnny Ronan companies

Issue relates to planned 1.3 acre office site in Cherrywood, Dublin

It is claimed the defendant has no defence to the claim and that RGRE 4 may not be a mark for damages

An application is to be made to refer the bulk of a dispute between a development firm and companies in the Johnny Ronan group over a €35 million office development to out-of-court arbitration.

Last week DLR Properties Ltd brought proceedings against RGRE Devco 4 Ltd (RGRE 4) and Ronan Group Real Estate Ltd seeking declarations that a development agreement between the parties concerning a site in Cherrywood, Loughlinstown, was validly terminated as a result of breaches by the defendants.

DLR also seeks damages and an injunction directing the removal of statements from the Ronan Group website which say or imply the defendants have a legal or equitable title or interest in the planned office site. It wants corrections and prohibitions on further such publications.

The claims are denied. When the matter returned before the court on Wednesday the defendants’ lawyers expressed their client’s surprise over what they say are “completely unnecessary” legal steps taken by the plaintiff.


Mr Justice Mark Sanfey was told the sides have consented to the majority of the issues in dispute being referred to an out of court arbitration.

The court heard that former chief justice Frank Clarke is the proposed arbitrator.

An application will be formally made in the coming days to the President of the High Court, Mr Justice David Barniville, seeking to refer the agreed aspects of the dispute to arbitration.

Senior counsel for the plaintiff, Marcus Dowling, said the defamation aspect of his client’s claim will remain before the High Court.

Stephen Walsh BL, for the defendants, said while his side consents it remains surprised by the “completely unnecessary” steps taken by the plaintiff firm, which he said is owned by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

Counsel said that, in particular, his side had agreed to go to arbitration in advance of the proceedings coming to court last week.

Counsel said his side was conscious of media reports of the proceedings, but said the defamation claim was based on what the defendants say are “anodyne” comments on their website.

He went on to describe the nature of the claims against the defendants as being not based in any reality” and having “no merit”.

In response, Mr Dowling said his client was fully justified in the actions it has taken. He added that his side has much to say in reply to the defendants, but those “are matters for another day”.

Last Friday, Mr Justice Garrett Simons granted short service of the proceedings on the defendants following a one-side-only represented application by DLR.

The dispute relates to a planned office site, which is 1.3 acres of an overall 13.3 acre site in Cherrywood, 12 acres of which is zoned for town centre development.

DLR says it entered into an agreement in May 2019 in which DLR would transfer the 12 acres to RGRE 4 in return for which that defendant was required to construct on the remaining 1.3 acres a 145,000sq ft office building at a cost (in 2019) of more than €35 million.

It claims RGRE 4 failed to take the necessary steps towards constructing the building, thus breaching its obligations under the development agreement.

Despite warning notices, the defendant provided no confirmation of its intention to begin construction, it is claimed.

It is claimed the defendant has no defence to the claim and that RGRE 4 may not be a mark for damages.

DLR also claims that incidents of trespass and defamation and slander of title have been committed by or on behalf of the defendants since the termination of the agreement.

These include an incident in which RGRE 4 directed or caused third parties to enter on to the site with geological survey equipment without permission.

The Ronan Group website statements in relation to a legal or equitable interest in the site constitute a slander of DLR’s title, it is also claimed.

They are calculated to cause and likely to cause financial loss to DLR in respect of its property, it is claimed.

The plaintiff further claims the defendants are aware DLR is trying to sell the site and these false statements will cause serious concern among prospective bidders and frustrate or delay any sale.

The claims are denied.