Dispute over Dublin development sites admitted to Commercial Court

Sites located at Blackrock, Rathmines and Crumlin

The application to have the dispute fast-tracked in the Commercial Court was brought by the defendants. Photograph: iStock

The application to have the dispute fast-tracked in the Commercial Court was brought by the defendants. Photograph: iStock

 

A dispute between two businessmen and related companies concerning three valuable development sites in Dublin has been admitted to the Commercial Court.

Builder Johnny O’Loughlin and Mount Pleasant Development Ltd (MPD) have brought proceedings against Michael Moran and four companies of which he is a director: Seabren Holdings Ltd, Seabren Developments Ltd, Refit Seabren Ltd Company and HITC Properties Ltd.

Mr O’Loughlin and MPD are seeking declarations they have interests in sites owned by the defendants at Glebe House and lands, St Agnes Road, Crumlin; lands at Annesley House, Rathmines; and the former Europa Motors site at Newtown Avenue, Blackrock, Co Dublin.

They also want declarations the defendants hold the properties in trust for the plaintiffs.

They further seek damages for alleged breach of contract and alleged intentional interference with the plaintiffs’ economic interests.

The claims are denied.

The application to have the dispute fast-tracked in the Commercial Court was brought by the defendants, represented by Gary McCarthy SC, who said the matter was urgent from his clients’ perspective.

Joint venture

Counsel said the plaintiffs had registered a lis pendens – an official notice to the public indicating a dispute over a property – in respect of the lands at the centre of the dispute.

That notice is holding up plans to commence developing the site at Crumlin in a joint venture with the owner of adjoining lands, he said.

The development in Blackrock has also had to be put on hold and sales of properties at Annesley Gardens cannot be completed, the court heard.

A motion has been brought to vacate the lis pendens but, given the value of the sites in question, the entire dispute should be heard by the Commercial Court, counsel said.

In a sworn statement, Mr Moran said the lis pendens had paralysed plans to develop the sites.

He said the projected sale value of all 21 units at Annesley Gardens was €31 million. The value of five units already contracted for sale is €7.36 million but completion has been complicated by the lis pendens, he said.

A lender had also informed him it will not provide any further finance required to further develop that site while the lis pendens remains registered on the properties, he said.

Above threshold

It is proposed to sell by way of forward purchase contract the site in Blackrock, where it is proposed to build 100 apartments. There were ongoing negotiations regarding that site with various prospective buyers, he said.

Mr Moran said, for commercial reasons, the defendants did not want to reveal any sale price figures but those would be well above €1 million, the minimum threshold for Commercial Court cases.

In relation to the site at Crumlin, he said, as part of a joint venture with the owner of an adjoining property, it is proposed to develop more than 150 apartments there subject to obtaining planning permission but that is also being held up by the lis pendens.

The plaintiffs, represented by Andrew Walker BL, consented to have the dispute admitted to the Commercial Court list.

Mr Justice David Barniville said he was satisfied the action should be admitted to the court’s list and returned it to later this year.