Supermac’s founder and Limerick outlet operator settle dispute
Circuit Court decision to remain in place, High Court told
Supermac’s founder Pat McDonagh at the Four Courts in June. Photograph: Collins Courts
A legal dispute between Supermac’s founder Pat McDonagh and tenants of one of the fast-food chain’s outlets has been settled.
As part of the settlement between the businessman and John and Mary Lyons, who operate a Supermac’s premises at Ennis Road, Limerick, the High Court was told an allegation Mr McDonagh had forged Mr Lyons’s signature on a document was withdrawn.
The settlement was in respect of a High Court appeal against findings by Limerick Circuit Court including an order requiring Mr McDonagh to reimburse more than €150,000 in overpaid council rates and rent to the couple.
The appeal was listed for hearing before Mr Justice Garrett Simons on Tuesday.
However, Rossa Fanning SC, for Mr McDonagh, said the case had settled on terms including the withdrawal both of the appeal and the respondent’s cross-appeal against the Circuit Court’s findings.
Mr Fanning said the Circuit Court’s decision would remain in place.
Counsel said it was also agreed that an allegation that a signature by John Lyons on a franchise agreement in respect of a Supermac’s outlet had been forged by either Mr McDonagh or anyone else was being withdrawn.
Counsel said a letter from the plaintiff’s solicitor stated that following inspection of the original document by Mr Lyons and his handwriting expert, the couple was “happy to accept that the signature presented as Mr Lyons’s signature is his signature” and “was not forged by Mr McDonagh or anyone on his behalf”.
The allegation was made following an inspection in March 2018 of a copy, and not an original, of the franchise agreement by Mr Lyons and his expert.
Sheila Finn, for Mr and Mrs Lyons said they were consenting to the settlement agreement.
Last year, the Circuit Court found Mr McDonagh had breached the terms of a long-standing oral tenancy agreement with the plaintiffs.
The court heard that, as part of an agreement in 1995, the couple paid an annual rent of about €132,000 and Mr McDonagh would discharge rates of about €22,000 to Limerick City Council.
Mr McDonagh stopped paying the rates for the Supermac’s premises in 2009, which meant the couple had to pay rates on top of the rent, totalling more than €154,000, the court heard.
Mr McDonagh claimed the annual rent was about €196,000 but the couple argued it should be €86,000.
While they were willing to pay rates, they were entitled to recover losses after they had overpaid, they also argued.
Their claim was opposed by Mr McDonagh.
In his decision, Judge Terry O’Sullivan agreed with the plaintiffs’ valuation of the rent, found there had been overpayment, and that the plaintiffs were entitled to a rebate and to have the rent reduced.
He said the Lyonses’ obligation to pay rates would continue and ordered Mr McDonagh to reimburse the rates previously paid by the plaintiffs since 2009 by way of annual deductions to the new fixed rent at €125,000.
The parties were also involved in separate but related proceedings concerning the Ennis Road outlet.
Last month, the High Court dismissed Supermac’s application for an injunction preventing the couple carrying out refurbishment works on the premises.
Supermac’s, which accepts that refurbishment works need to be carried out, claimed the couple were in breach of a franchise agreement which stipulates that it carries out refurbishment and repair works on its fast-food restaurant outlets.
The couple denied the claims and argued that Supermac’s had failed to carry out necessary refurbishments works for several years and said the action was linked to the Circuit Court appeal.