Row between Aherlow House Hotel receiver and ex-operator

Threat of legal action over deposits taken from couples for weddings

The closure of Aherlow House Hotel  affected 43 couples who had placed deposits for their weddings.

The closure of Aherlow House Hotel affected 43 couples who had placed deposits for their weddings.

 

The receiver of the Aherlow House Hotel in Co Tipperary and the company that ran the property until closing it suddenly on February 9th have threatened to sue each other in a dispute relating to deposits taken for weddings.

The hotel was sold by the receiver Grant Thornton, acting for Goldman Sachs, on Thursday to Dublin-based hotel operator Adrian Shanagher.

This was nine days after it had been closed by its previous operator Auburn Hotels (Aherlow) Ltd (AHA), which had a lease that ran until April 25th.

The closure affected 43 couples who had placed deposits with AHA for their weddings.

Mr Shanagher has agreed to honour wedding bookings, even though the deposits were taken and used by AHA, and to hire the 47 staff under transfer of undertakings legislation.

In a statement yesterday, AHA said: “We originally took on the business as a going concern meaning we had to honour existing bookings and give credit for deposits taken prior to our involvement. The hotel has now been sold on the exact same basis as is the norm in the industry.”

AHA said it was “disappointed at the lack of clarity” on this matter in statements issued to the press and on social media. It said this had resulted in a “gross misleading of the public”, adding that “legal proceedings will now issue against the receiver as a result of recent events”.

The statement was issued on the instructions of Eugene Tormey, a solicitor in Thurles. Mr Tormey could not be reached for comment last night. The directors of AHA are listed in the companies office as John O’Dwyer and Margaret O’Connor, both with addresses in Tipperary.

Legal action

“As such, there is no legal basis for AHA unilaterally trying to impose obligations on the receiver or the company in receivership.

“AHA is a separate legal entity and, following the premature surrender of the lease which, combined with the inaccurate statement from AHA that the receiver would honour deposits, caused chaos for customers of AHA.

“The receiver is considering legal action against the directors and any other persons who acted on behalf of AHA.”

Latest abridged accounts filed by AHA are for 2013, a year when it made a profit of €19,081. It recorded a loss of €143,565 in 2012.

AHA ended 2013 with a deficit in its shareholders funds of €123,484 while creditors were owed €420,155. The accounts included a note on its going concern status, stating that it had made “substantial operating losses” in the previous two years. “The company may not have sufficient time to turn to profitability,” it added.

In July 2014, Fitzgerald Fleming in Carrick-on-Suir, resigned as AHA’s auditors, “having been requested to do so by the directors”. On May 21st 2015, Counterpoint Wholesale (Ireland) Ltd secured a judgement of €4,597 against AHA, which has not been satisfied.