Savoy owner seeks injunction preventing former Screen being used as cinema

DCG claims such a use would amount to breach of sale undertaking

The owner of Dublin's Savoy Cinema fear a company which bought the Screen Cinema from it intends to use it as a cinema/theatre.

It claims that would amount to breach of a sale undertaking that it would not be used for this purpose for 20 years.

The Dublin Cinema Group (DCG) is seeking a High Court injunction preventing Balark Trading GP and Balark Investments using the Screen building and the neighbouring College House, just off D'Olier Street in Dublin 2, as a cinema/theatre.

The Savoy is located nearby in O’Connell Street.


DCG claims, when it sold its leasehold interest in these two buildings to Balark in 2016, there was a restrictive covenant in the sale agreement that meant they would not be used as a cinema/theatre for 20 years afterwards.

In 2018, planning permission was granted for redevelopment at the Screen site to include a 500-seat “entertainment venue”. The previous year, Balark Investments transferred its interest in the properties to Balark Trading.

DCG sought undertakings from Balark that the use would not be for a cinema or theatre of any kind and the planning permission would not be implemented as long as the “entertainment venue” aspect was part of it.

Balark Trading was prepared to undertake not to use it for a cinema/theatre but refused not to proceed with its permission. It also disputed it was bound by the restrictive covenant given the sale contract was with a separate company, Balark Investments.

As of January 2018, Balark’s solicitors indicated the firm had not finalised its intended use for the properties.

DCG did not believe it did not intend to use them for cinema/theatre.

DCG brought proceedings seeking to prevent such a use for the 20 years under the sale agreement.

Press Up Entertainment

Lorcan Ward, a DCG director, said in an affidavit last January that, while Balark said a decision on use had not yet been made, "surrounding evidence" indicated that 18 months earlier negotiations were at an advanced stage with Paddy McKillen junior's Press Up Entertainment leisure and hospitality group over use.

Arising out of this dispute, both parties asked the High Court to order discovery of certain documents.

Mr Justice Michael Twomey refused both parties' applications.

In relation to DCG’s discovery application for all documents relating to the design or intended use as a 500-seat entertainment venue, Mr Justice Twomey said documents about the past intentions of Balark were not necessary for a fair disposal of the case.

In relation to Balark’s discovery application, he held the documents it sought were not relevant and necessary for fair disposal of the dispute.

The Screen was demolished earlier this year.