Farmer’s appeal over claim to land dismissed

John M Harrington claimed to have a ‘legal right and a legal claim’ to certain lands

The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal brought by a farmer claiming to have an interest over land earmarked for 200 residential units in Oranmore, Co Galway.

John M Harrington, of Gurrane South, Oranmore, appealed two orders made by the Commercial Court’s Mr Justice Denis McDonald late last year, the second of which resulted in his action being struck out.

He had initiated proceedings last August against Greenway Properties, and its associated companies Greenway Real Estate Holdings Ltd and Limbal Ltd, along with a company providing security on the lands, You’re Secure Solutions Ltd. The security firm has been employed by Corestone 16 Ltd, which bought the lands for €5.3 million last April.

The action was also against Greenway directors Peter Fitzgerald and John Carmody, as well as You’re Secure directors James Barrett and Martin Barrett.

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Upon application by the defendants, the proceedings were entered into the High Court’s fast-track commercial list on November 1st, with conditions attached regarding the filing of certain papers by Mr Harrington within a specified period.

Dismissal clause

The defendant issued a motion to dismiss the proceedings, on account of Mr Harrington’s failure to comply with the filing directions. The judge made a further order on December 6th that would see the case dismissed if Mr Harrington did not file the documents within a further 10 days.

The papers were not delivered, and the dismissal clause in the “unless order” took effect on December 20th.

Mr Justice Barniville set out the background to the case in a judgment on behalf of the three-judge Court of Appeal.

Mr Harrington claimed to have a “legal right and a legal claim” to certain lands due to entering into a lease with the previous owner, the judge noted. He asserted an entitlement to remain on and to occupy the lands under a lease and claimed the defendants and/or their agents unlawfully entered the site, removing his property, animals and livestock.

No merit

He sought various reliefs including an order preventing the defendants from building any houses on the lands until his alleged leasing contract has expired.

The defendants denied all of his claims and submitted there was no merit to his cause, which was delaying a significant commercial project.

Mr Justice Barniville said Mr Harrington’s decision to appeal only the orders from November 1st, entering the matter into the commercial list, and December 20th, when the “unless order” of December 6th took force, created an “insurmountable problem” for his appeals.

His failure to appeal the December 6th “unless order” was “fatal” to his case, said the judge.

“It is not possible to maintain an appeal in proceedings which have been dismissed on foot of an unless order without appealing that order,” he added.

The Court gave a provisional view that the defendants should be awarded the cost of the appeals, as they have been entirely successful.

Ms Justice Caroline Costello and Ms Justice Teresa Pilkington indicated their agreement with the judgment.

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is an Irish Times reporter