High Court adjourns Michael O’Flynn case until June
Developer’s group is taking lawsuit against former employees
O’Flynn group case had run into fourth week in the High Court.
The High Court has adjourned builder Michael O’Flynn’s property group’s lawsuit against some former workers while the defendants challenge a ruling relating to evidence in the case.
Several companies in the O’Flynn group are suing former managers Patrick Cox, Liam Foley, Eoghan Kearney and others saying they made a €12.5 million profit on a student accommodation project on Gardiner Street, Dublin, at the business’s expense. The defendants deny the claims.
Mr Justice William Quinn adjourned the hearing to allow the defendants appeal a ruling next month that they say prevents them getting documents that will support part of their case.
The documents deal with O’Flynn group’s sale in 2012 of land in the English cities of Birmingham and Coventry to a local builder, JJ Gallagher.
The British company subsequently sold the Birmingham sites to a venture in which an O’Flynn company and one of the plaintiffs, Grey Willow, held 10per cent, while the main investor, Coral Group, had 90 per cent. The partnership developed the site.
The State’s National Asset Management Agency (Nama), to which the O’Flynn group owed €1.8 billion, originally demanded that it sell the properties. The defence maintains that the agency was unaware of the Coral-Grey Willow arrangement.
However, Mr O’Flynn stressed in his evidence that the plaintiffs kept Nama informed at all times. An agency official is due to give evidence for the defence.
Another High Court judge, Mr Justice David Barniville, ruled that the defendants could not have the documents relating to the sale they were seeking. However, their lawyers sought to challenge this and the Court of Appeal will hear that on March 3rd.
Justice Quinn adjourned the main case until June, but said he would hold a brief hearing on the Friday after the appeal.
The case has already run into its fourth week and observers believe it could take several more, as the plaintiffs have yet to concluded their evidence, while the defence has not opened its case.
Mr Cox, Mr Foley and Mr Kearney challenge the assertion that several of the O’Flynn companies taking the case, including the first plaintiff, Victoria Hall Management Ltd, employed them. As a result, they deny that they could have owed duties as workers to those businesses.
They say that they did consultancy work for some of the companies, which paid them fees for this.
Mr Cox says that he was employed by Tiger Developments, part of the O’Flynn group’s UK operation, which passed to US investor Blackstone, in April 2014. He announced his resignation from the company at that point.
Mr Cox maintains that he has a letter from John Nesbitt, head of the O’Flynn group’s UK business, allowing him to pursue property projects of his own in Dublin.