Comers’ property company settles court case with Dublin farmers

Proceedings struck out and court told it could make costs order in favour of company

Property developer Luke Comer. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Property developer Luke Comer. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

A legal dispute between two farmers and a company of billionaire brothers Luke and Brian Comer over five acres in north county Dublin has been resolved.

Farmers Rory Bridgette and Albert Murphy brought proceedings over land at Turnapin, Cloghran, Swords, near Dublin Airport, which they claimed they used for years for grazing their horses. They claimed they had rights to the land.

Their proceedings were against Sainfoin Property Company, part of the Comer group of companies. They alleged they were “bullied, intimidated and threatened” by representatives of the company.

Denying the claims, the company said the farmers’ allegations were scandalous and made to denigrate the firm in the eyes of the court.

The company said it had purchased the lands in 2014 and the farmers had no rights to the land. The matter was briefly mentioned before Mr Justice Brian McGovern at the Commercial Court on Monday when Martin Hayden SC, instructed by solicitor Andrew Turner, said the entire proceedings had been resolved and could be struck out.

Counsel said the claim against his client was being withdrawn and the court could make a costs order in favour of the company.

Eanna Mulloy SC, instructed by solicitor John Geary, for the farmers, said it had been further agreed a litigation pending notice registered by his clients against the lands would be removed.

The judge welcomed the resolution of the dispute. The case first came before the courts last September when the farmers got a temporary injunction restraining the company and its agents from interfering with or trespassing on the lands.

The injunction, which also prohibited the company removing any animals on the lands, was discontinued a few days later after the firm’s lawyers argued there was no evidence to support the farmer’s claims. Ms Justice Eileen Creedon said she was discontinuing the injunction because she preferred evidence tendered on behalf of the company.

Horses and ponies

The court heard the farmers had fenced off the five acres, which they used for their horses and ponies, since the early 2000s. They claimed the previous owner knew they put their horses on the land but never tried to put them off it.

Earlier this year, they received communications from a representative “from the Comer brothers”, who told them to remove their horses and ponies from the lands, they claimed.

Mr Bridgette, Sandy Hill Way, Ballymun, and Mr Murphy, Furry Park, Cloghran, told the representative they were not going anywhere. Afterwards, they claimed a mound of soil was dumped in the laneway which prevented them accessing the lands, locks on gates were cut off, fence posts were cut and a horse was taken away and placed in a local authority pound.

As a result, they brought the proceedings against the company. In opposing the continuation of the injunction, the company said the farmers had tried to “extort money” from it.

They also claimed Mr Bridgette had told a company’s representative he had “rights” to the field and wanted “substantial compensation” before he moved off. The farmers had no rights or interest in the land which the company had purchased in 2014 as part of a plot of 230 acres, it said.

The company also refuted claims it or any of its representatives acted in a threatening manner towards the farmers.