Care home master franchise holder secures temporary injunction in High Court

Clemac Home Care Services gets order against UK-based Bluebird Care Franchises

The Four Courts.  Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

The Four Courts. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

A holder of a master franchise agreement for provision of domiciliary home care across the State has secured a temporary High Court injunction preventing the franchise ending their business relationship.

Clemac Home Care Services got the order on Wednesday against UK-based Bluebird Care Franchises Ltd.

The court was told Bluebird had said it intended to terminate the agreement due to alleged misconduct by Clemac.

Clemac says such allegations are without substance.

Shares

It claims the allegations, and decision to terminate the agreement, came about after the Irish firm’s director Brian MacGoey refused to sell his shares in the company to Bluebird’s American parent.

Clemac claims, by purporting to terminate the agreement, Bluebird “is seeking to take over Clemac’s business rather than pay for it.”

The injunction restrains Bluebird taking any steps to implement the purported termination of the Master Licence Agreement of May 2014.

Earlier, Mr Justice Tony O’Connor was told by Frank Beatty SC, for Clemac, said it has since 2007 held the master franchise agreement allowing it operate the Bluebird Care brand in Ireland.

Through its international franchisees, Bluebird delivers care to adults and children with conditions including dementia and intellectual disability.

Under the agreement, Clemac provides administration, training and support to several independent companies in Ireland which provide care services under the Bluebird Care brand.

Clemac has some 21 separate agreements with franchisees for the provision of care services here.

Mr Beatty said the relationship between Bluebird Care and Clemac had been good for many years but, in recent months, Bluebird had made allegations of misconduct against Clemac

Issues

Counsel said these issues arose after Mr MacGoey had earlier this year refused a €19 million offer from a US entity, CBI Parent LP, which bought Bluebird Care in 2014, to sell them his shares in Clemac.

He said Mr MacGoey was informed on Tuesday last that Bluebird intended to terminate the agreement.

Mr McGoey said that would have ruinous consequences for the company and its employees and also have a detrimental effect on the Irish franchises and those they care for.

In a sworn statemeent, Mr MacGoey said the allegations made against him and the company by Bluebird are “simply untrue” and were made following a purported investigative process that was “wholly unfair.”

Claims made were “framed in such vague terms that they were almost incomprehensible and impossible to reply to”, he said.

The allegations are “utterly contrived”, have “no substance” and Bluebird is trying to acquire Clemac by using “improper means”, he said.

Granting the injunction on an ex-parte basis (one side only represented), Mr Justice O’Connor said he was satisfied a strong case had been made out for the order, damages would not be an adequate remedy and the balance of convenience favoured granting it. He returned the matter to next week.