Company gets temporary injunction stopping blockade of entrance to headquarters

Coffey Construction Limited gets interim order against receiver

 Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Photograph Nick Bradshaw

 

A civil engineering company has secured a temporary High Court injunction preventing security operatives hired by a fund-appointed receiver blockading the entrance to its headquarters in Co Galway.

Coffey Construction Limited (CCL) got the interim order on Friday against receiver David O’Connor, of the firm BDO, in respect of a blockade that began earlier this week at Moanbaun, Athenry and which CCL contends is unlawful.

The High Court heard, arising out of a dispute over CCL’s lease on the property, 15 security guards with two large white vans and dogs had last Tuesday morning physically blocked access to its headquarters.

Hugh J Byrne BL, instructed by solicitor Shane MacSweeney, for CCL, said it fears the blockade will damage it and possibly drive it to insolvency if it is allowed continue.

Counsel said the receiver was appointed by financial fund Promontoria (Arrow) Ltd in 2017 over certain assets belonging to CCL’s landlord, Oldbridge Plant Ltd. There had been correspondence between CCL and the receiver’s agents, where an issue arose over the validity of CCL’s lease for the property in Athenry but CCL says it has a valid lease, for which it pays €100,000 per year, for the premises.

Counsel said the blockade began at 7am on Tuesday and is being mounted in a way that prevents vehicular access to the property. The security guards, who described themselves as bailiffs, did not carry any mandatory identification or licence numbers as required under the Private Security Services Act and that had been reported to the Private Security Authority, he said.

It is believed they are employees of Blackwater Asset Management or Praetorian, he said. Counsel added that CCL has 280 employees, 88 based in Athenry, and the workers were eventually able to gain access to the premises.

However, they have to park more than 2.5 km away, which presents health and safety concerns especially at this time of year, he said.

In correspondence since the blockade was mounted, the receiver has stated he is entitled to continue the blockade and to take possession of the subject property but CCL maintains the blockade is unlawful and should not be allowed to proceed, counsel outlined.

The injunction, granted on an ex-parte basis (one side only represented) by Mr Justice Tony O’Connor, restrains the receiver and his agents restricting the company’s access to the Athenry property. The case was returned to next week.