Financier Derek Quinlan has lodged a High Court bid in London to stop property developer Patrick McKillen from taking legal action in Ireland to force him to sell his shares in a luxury London hotel group.
The move by Mr Quinlan is the latest stage in the long-running £20 million legal battle between Mr McKillen and the billionaire Barclay brothers David and Frederick for control of Claridges, the Berkeley and the Connaught hotels.
Mr Quinlan yesterday served papers on Mr McKillen in anticipation of a legal challenge in Dublin on the grounds he has defaulted and therefore should be forced to relinquish his shares.
Last week, the Supreme Court in London refused to hear Mr McKillen's appeal, on the grounds that he had not raised points of law "of general importance", bearing in mind earlier court defeats.
Yesterday, Mr Quinlan said the Belfast-born developer wants "to relitigate in the Irish courts the case against me that was rejected by the English High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.
"Unfortunately I have had to ask the English court for a ruling that Mr McKillen cannot refight in Ireland a case he has already lost in England. I wish I did not have to do this, but Mr McKillen's obsessive pursuit of litigation has left me with no choice."
The brief details of claim lodged by Mr Quinlan in the Commercial Court, and seen by The Irish Times, seek a court declaration that he is not in breach of the 2004 shareholders' agreement signed when the hotels were bought.
Furthermore, it seeks a declaration "he is neither obliged to serve, nor deemed to have served" to transfer his crucial shareholding in the hotels' holding company, Coroin.
Mr McKillen has long claimed Mr Quinlan's share should have been shared out proportionally between and the Barclay brothers' company, Ellerman, which would give majority control.
In a letter to Mr Quinlan, Mr McKillen’s lawyers claim that efforts “to manage and turn around the hotels” have been put “on hold” by Mr Quinlan’s decision to transfer control of the shares to Ellerman.
Mr Quinlan’s actions, the McKillen side claims, has continued “to damage” the hotels, “aggravated by the fact that your failure to permit pre-emption means that the company cannot avail of the current buoyant London property market and the extremely valuable planning permissions it has in place.
Meanwhile, there will be a hearing next month to decide if the courts in Ireland or London should hear Mr Quinlan’s claims it is Mr McKillen who is the one in breach of the shareholders’ agreement.