Dispute over ownership of Dublin’s south docks waterfront reaches High Court

Court begins hearing over planned €100m commercial and residential development


The hearing of a dispute between companies linked to two well known developers over the ownership of sections of Dublin’s south docks waterfront district has opened before the Commercial Court.

The proceedings relate to a row between Balark Investments, part of the Marlet Group led by Pat Crean, which is behind a planned a €100 million commercial and residential development on the site, and Chambury Investment Company, connected to Johnny Ronan.

Balark claims its project is being delayed as a reuslt of claims by Chambury that its interest in part of the land at Lime Street and Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, overlooking the River Liffey and the Samuel Beckett Bridge, is worth €20 million.

Balark claims the Circuit Court previously ruled Chambury’s interest in the disputed land is just €60,000 which is all Balark has to pay to acquire the sections of land at the centre of the dispute.

Chambury has appealed the Circuit Court’s decision.

The hearing of that appeal, and of separate proceedings by Balark, in which it wants a declaration it is entitled to demolish the buildings on the disputed lands, opened before Mr Justice Robert Haughton on Friday.

Balark, represented by Declan McGrath SC and Paul Coughlan BL, wants the court to determine its entitlement to acquire that fee simple interest in the affected lands.

Chambury, represented by Paul Gardiner SC and Gavin Mooney BL, argue Balark is not entitled to acquire the fee simple.

When the matter was admitted to the Commercial Court list earlier this year, Balark said in a sworn statement Chambury has sought to frustrate the development by using its freehold interest in certain lots of the site as a form of ransom strip in an attempt to force Balark to pay what Balark says is a completely inflated sum for that interest.

It is also claimed Mr Ronan bought the freehold interest in the affected lots in June 2015 but that, in September 2015, Mr Ronan’s lawyers said he was no longer the owner.

Balark says title records show Mr Ronan transferred the freehold interest to Chambury in October 2015. Subsequently, Chambury brought proceedings alleging breaches of covenant under the leases for these lots by Balark and served forfeiture notices on Balark.

In June 2016, the High Court rejected Chambury’s case.

Balark then sought to acquire the fee simple interest, resulting in a Circuit Court ruling in July 2017 setting the value of Chambury’s interest at €60,000.

The hearing continues next week.