A partnership is seeking a High Court order directing the return of a €3.7 million deposit it paid as part of a failed deal to buy a 9.6-acre development site from Dublin City University (DCU).
The Atlas Limited Partnership agreed to buy the land at Hampstead, Glasnevin, in December 2019 for €37.6 million.
Atlas paid a deposit of €3.7 million which was held in the client account of DCU’s solicitors pending the completion of the sale. When it was not completed, the deposit was forfeited to the university.
has brought proceedings seeking orders, including for the return of the deposit, and declarations, including that DCU was not able and willing to deliver title to the site.
DCU denies the claims and says it was ready, willing and able at all times to sell the land, and that Atlas was in breach of the contract for sale by failing to complete the purchase.
Mr Justice Denis McDonald admitted the case to the fast-track Commercial Court, on consent, following an application by DCU. He adjourned the matter to February.
Basis of dispute
In an affidavit, DCU’s chief operations officer Declan Raftery said the original closing date for the sale was January 23rd, 2020, but it did not complete at that time because DCU dealt with additional issues on transferring part of the lands and to clarify issues raised by Atlas in relation to maps.
By the end of July 2020, Atlas said there were significant legal points that remained outstanding between the parties, as well as outstanding mapping queries. Atlas failed, however, to identify what those issues were, Mr Raftery said.
In August, DCU formally asked Atlas to complete the purchase in 14 days.
In September, Atlas contended DCU was not able to complete the sale because it did not have sufficient title to an area known as the “yellow lands”. Atlas said these were critical to the development potential of the land.
Atlas also contended the sale was at an end due to Covid-19.
DCU refuted those claims and asserted Atlas had acknowledged as part of the conditions of sale that it, Atlas, had fully investigated the title prior to the sale.
Following further correspondence between the parties, Atlas brought proceedings last September. Mr Raftery said DCU considers the case to be spurious and “nothing more than an ill-judged attempt” to renegotiate the contract for sale.