Dunne seeks court order over €130m property deal


DEVELOPER SEAN Dunne has asked for court orders requiring a firm of estate agents to discover any documents relating to dealings it or related companies had with Irish Life concerning Mr Dunne’s €130 million purchase of Irish Life’s Hume House property in late 2006.

CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) has opposed the application, alleging Mr Dunne is engaged in a “classic fishing expedition” to support what it says are his unfounded claims CBRE had induced him to buy Hume House, in Ballsbridge, Dublin, for an inflated sum and received a fee from Irish Life over the sale.

Mr Dunne has claimed that, relying on CBRE advice, he bought the property for €130 million when the nearest competing bid was €102 million.

CBRE claims Mr Dunne effectively went on a “solo flight” relating to the Hume House purchase.

Mr Dunne has made his claims in an affidavit supporting his defence and counter-claim to proceedings brought against him by CBRE in which they are seeking €1.5 million in alleged unpaid fees.

At the Commercial Court yesterday, Mr Justice Peter Kelly heard submissions from Donal O’Donnell SC, for Mr Dunne, seeking orders requiring CBRE discover any documents relating to any communications between CBRE and related companies with Irish Life concerning the Hume House deal.

Counsel for CBRE said his client is an international group of some 100 companies and Mr Dunne was effectively engaging in a fishing expedition, having failed to outline any factual basis for the claims he was advancing in his counterclaim.

Counsel said CBRE has discovered its file concerning the Hume House transaction and had no difficulty discovering any documents related to any dealings it had with Irish Life concerning the Hume House purchase. However, it was opposed to a discovery order extending to all other companies in the group as this would be an onerous task and CBRE had said those companies were not involved.

Mr Justice Kelly said he would rule on the discovery issues on Friday.

In its case against Mr Dunne, CBRE, with registered offices at Connaught House, Burlington Road, Dublin, claims €1.5 million is due to it in fees relating to a commercial property transaction of February 2006 involving the sale of premises known as Riverside IV at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin, and the part exchange of that with Hume House at Pembroke Road.

In his defence, Mr Dunne has counterclaimed for €35 million damages from CBRE over allegedly advising him to buy Hume House for €130 million when, he claims, the nearest competing bid was €102 million and the true value of the premises was between €65 million and €95 million.

CBRE has denied all the claims by Mr Dunne, including that it received a fee from Irish Life Investment Managers over the sale of Hume House, breached its professional duty to Mr Dunne and concealed information from him concerning the purchase of the property. It says it expressly advised Mr Dunne it could not justify significantly more than €65 million for the property.

Mr Dunne claims his bid for Hume House went from €92 million to €130 million over a four-day period in late February 2006 against a counter-bid of €102 million.