The owner of printing business Reads has secured a High Court injunction preserving the access route to its premises just off Dublin's Nassau street
Ms Justice Mary Rose Gearty ruled on Tuesday that O'Flaherty's (Nassau St) Limited, trading as Reads, was entitled to the order against Setanta Centre Unlimited Company, owner of an office building on Nassau Street.
The injunction is to remain in place pending the full hearing of the action.
O’Flaherty’s operates an outlet within the Setanta Campus, just to the south of but visible and accessible from Nassau Street via a concourse.
The defendant, owned by the family of businessman Larry Goodman, is redeveloping the building over the next two years at a cost of €150 million.
O Flaherty’s, which has four more years left on its lease, claimed, as part of the redevelopment works, the defendant had obstructed access to its premises from Nassau Street with scaffolding and hoarding.
The obstruction is permanent as it is intended to replace the temporary structures with the planned new building, it claimed.
O'Flaherty's, represented by Michéal O'Connell SC and John O'Regan, claimed this interference with its main access route breached its property rights and would damage its business, particularly that from nearby Trinity College.
The defendant denied any breach of rights, argued the lease did not include an express right to access by the concourse and damages would be an adequate remedy should the plaintiff win at full hearing. It argued O’Flaherty’s premises could be accessed via another route, Setanta Place, and said it had offered to pay for improvements to the Setanta Place access.
The judge said while the existence of an easement between the premises and Nassau Street was a matter to be decided at the full trial, she was satisfied O’Flaherty’s had raised a fair question to be tried.
It was arguable the defendant has diminished O’Flaherty’s use of the premises by interfering with the access route to Nassau Street, she said.
Damages would not be an adequate remedy and the balance of convenience favoured the granting of the injunction, she held.
The defendant had argued the interests on both sides were “commercial” and it was in the wider interests the development proceed, she noted.
She said “certainty” for residential and commercial leaseholders is more important as a societal value than a single building project and more important than an availability of compensation if leasehold rights are breached.
Refusing an injunction because a defendant can compensate a plaintiff for what may turn out to be a breach of a right sends a “dangerous message” to litigants who are well resourced, she said.
“The message being that money can buy a party out of any breach of the law. That is not so,” she added.
In all the circumstances, she was satisfied to grant the injunction and said she would make final orders later this week.