Balark petition to appoint statutory liquidator to Chambury rejected

High Court says liquidator already posted to Johnny Ronan firm has displayed integrity

Marlet chief executive Patrick Crean: Marlet subsidiary wanted a number of issues investigated, including Chambury’s decision to sell its main asset, a plot of land on Lime Street, to what Balark said was a related company. Photograph: Jason Clarke

Marlet chief executive Patrick Crean: Marlet subsidiary wanted a number of issues investigated, including Chambury’s decision to sell its main asset, a plot of land on Lime Street, to what Balark said was a related company. Photograph: Jason Clarke

 

Marlet subsidiary Balark could appeal the High Court’s rejection of its bid to have a statutory liquidator appointed to a Johnny Ronan-controlled company against which it has been fighting a long legal battle over a Dublin property.

Balark, part of the Pat Crean-led builder, Marlet, maintains the Johnny Ronan-controlled Chambury owes it almost €1.2 million in costs following a legal battle between the pair over a high-profile site on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin.

Balark won the law suit. Creditors subsequently voted to wind up Chambury last June and appoint accountant Myles Kirby as liquidator, a move Balark claimed was an effort to avoid paying its legal costs.

Balark petitioned the High Court to have the liquidator appointed at the creditors’ meeting removed and replaced by a statutory liquidator.

The Marlet subsidiary said it wanted a number of issues investigated, including Chambury’s decision to sell its main asset, a plot of land on Lime Street, to what Balark said was a related company.

However, Mr Justice Denis McDonald refused the petition on Friday. He pointed out that the fact that liquidators were answerable to the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement would help ensure Mr Kirby’s independence.

In a statement following the ruling, Balark noted that in the course of the hearing the liquidator had confirmed that he would investigate Chambury’s conduct ahead of its winding-up.

Contemplating appeal

“Balark is considering appealing today’s ruling,” the company said. It added that work on the office and apartment development on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay was well under way.

It also emerged during the hearing that Balark and Chambury clashed over the legal costs. A figure of €310,000 was allowed at the creditors’ meeting.

In his ruling, the judge said the issues that required investigation were not complex. He noted that Chambury’s only activity was litigation and selling the Lime Street plot.

He also argued that should Balark have any issues with the liquidation it could have the court deal with them. The judge also stressed that Mr Kirby had demonstrated his independence and integrity to the court.

The petition arose from a series of cases before the County Registrar, Circuit and High Courts, in which Balark won the right to buy out Chambury’s freehold in two plots of land on Lime Street for €40,000.

Marlet bought two 250-year leases over sites on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay and Lime Street in December 2015. Mr Ronan acquired the freehold interest over lots that were part of the site in 2015, which he transferred to Chambury.

A dispute arose when Balark sought to buy the freehold on the strips from Chambury for a small sum based on ground rent laws, while the Johnny Ronan-linked company sought €20 million.