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Craft brewer ‘locked out’ of premises wins interim injunction

Award-winning Whiplash shares facility with unrelated microbrewery

The dispute concerns two brewing companies that share a premises in Co Wicklow. Photograph: iStock

An award-winning brewer has been “locked out” of the premises where his company manufactures its craft beers, the High Court has heard.

Alex Lawes, who has been twice named ‘best brewer in Ireland’, along with his business partner Alan Wolfe, established Whiplash Beer Limited in 2016. The company produces and sells craft beers which have won several awards.

Whiplash operates from a shared facility in Co Wicklow that is owned by an unrelated microbrewery, The Dublin Lager Company Limited, trading as Larkins Brewing Company. The facility is located at Renmore Business Park, Kilcoole Co Wicklow.

Both companies brew and package their respective beers at the premises, which contain several vats.

On Tuesday, Rory Kennedy BL, for Whiplash, said several issues have arisen between the firms, resulting in a breakdown of relations between the parties.

The defendant firm, a family-owned business, had informed his client that Mr Lawes, whose presence and expertise is essential for the company, was “banned” from the brewery, counsel said.

Mr Lawes’s daily access to the brewery premises was guaranteed under the contract they had entered into in regard to Whiplash’s use of the premises, counsel said.

Mr Lawes was accused of being a bully by the defendant but that was strongly denied, he said.

The defendant had also informed his client it would have to find another place to brew, its contract was being terminated and Whiplash must leave the premises by December 21st.

Counsel said this was in breach of the contract entered into between the two parties which has another two years to run.

Alternative premises

Whiplash has sought to find an alternative premises and cannot move immediately but has offered to leave by the end of March 2019, he said.

As a result of Mr Lawes being “locked out”, Whiplash has brought proceedings against The Dublin Lager Company.

It secured an interim injunction preventing the defendant interfering with its business.

The defendant’s actions have created uncertainty over their business and Mr Lawes’s banishment from the brewery has put Whiplash’s award-winning and highly rated brewing business at risk of collapse, counsel said.

The injunction also prevents the defendant interfering with Whiplash entering into the shared premises.

The injunction was granted, on an ex parte basis (one side only represented), by Ms Justice Caroline Costello who returned the matter to Thursday.