Interim injunctions granted in Dublin 4 Georgian house sale dispute

Real estate company Blucher claims completion notice on €2.95m sale is invalid

A dispute concerning a contract for the €2.95 million sale of a Georgian property in Dublin 4 has come before the High Court.

Ms Justice Mary Rose Gearty granted interim injunctions to Blucher Ltd, a real estate company, restraining receivers appointed over the property at 25 Wellington Road acting on foot of a second sale completion notice, forfeiting a €295,000 deposit or offering the property for sale.

Seeking the injunctions on Thursday against the receivers, Bernard Dunleavy SC, for Blucher, said it entered a contract last February to purchase the property for €2.95m and paid a deposit of €295,000.

The property had been described in The Irish Times as “almost unique” in its location in terms of its condition and configuration, he outlined.

Blucher wanted to restrain the receivers, Kieran Wallace and James Sharkey of KPMG, acting on foot of a sale completion notice served on June 10th last and due to expire on June 25th, he said.

In court documents, Blucher argued the June 10th completion notice, the second such notice, is invalid for a number of reasons including lack of agreement, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, on where the sale closing is to be held.

Paul Hourican, a director of Blucher, with offices at Ely Place Upper, Dublin 2, said he lives in Wicklow and requires to inspect the property before closing but that is not possible at present due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.

Blucher says, irrespective of the alleged invalidity of the notice, it fears, in circumstances where it had experienced some delay in organising the sale finance due to the Covid-19 crisis, the defendants would seek to rely on the completion notice to forfeit the deposit and put the property back on the market.

Notwithstanding the notice’s alleged deficiencies, Blucher says it intends to try and agree an alternative mechanism for closing the sale in the coming weeks.

Mr Dunleavy, with Oliver Butler SC, instructed by Clark Hill Solicitors, said while the receivers' solicitors had said this week the only reason Blucher is not completing the sale was because it did not have the finance, Blucher had secured mezzanine finance after being left short by a financier.

The defendants would not be prejudiced by the injunctions but, if they were not granted, Blucher would lose its deposit and the property.

Covid-19 ‘pretext’ claim

The court heard Blucher has separate proceedings against First Citizen Finance DAC seeking specific performance of an agreement of February 21st 2020 for a loan of €2.2m from First Citizen to Blucher.

In that case, for hearing in September, Blucher claims First Citizen used the Covid-19 crisis as a “pretext” to revalue the property downwards and recalculated the loan to value, thus reducing the level of finance to €1.77m.

Blucher has since secured a €250,000 facility from another entity and claims that sum, plus available equity of €850,000, its deposit and even the lowest level of funding from First Citizen meant it will be in a position shortly to complete the sale.

Ms Justice Gearty noted the injunctions sought against the receivers were essentially aimed at maintaining the status quo for a short period and she was satisfied to grant them on an ex parte basis (one side only represented).

Blucher had raised an arguable issue concerning the prospects of closing the sale, damages may not be an adequate remedy and the balance of convenience favoured granting the injunctions, she said.

The matter will be back before the court on Monday via an application to have it entered in the fast-track Commercial Court list.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times