Cork GAA challenges alleged extra €1m bill for electrical work on Páirc Uí Chaoimh

Court told notice of additional bill came 3 years after stadium completed

Cork GAA has brought a High Court challenge over arising from an alleged attempt by a contractor to seek a further €1 million payment for electrical works carried out in the revamp of Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

The 45,000-seat stadium reopened in 2017 following a two-year redevelopment.

One of the contracts in the project was for electrical works by OCS One Complete Solution Ltd which Cork GAA says was eventually paid €7.1 million.

However, Kevin O’Donovan, chief executive of Cork GAA, said, some three years after the stadium was handed over by the builders, OCS served notice of its intention to refer a claim for additional payment for electrical works to an adjudicator.

The appointment of an adjudicator was considered by the chairperson of the then government's Construction Contracts Adjudication Panel at the Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation. The power to appoint an adjudicator is held under the 2013 Construction Contracts Act.

On October 20th last, senior counsel James Bridgeman was appointed adjudicator.

In judicial review proceedings against the chair of the adjudication panel, Nael G Bunni, and against Mr Bridgeman, Mr O'Donovan and the Cork County Committee of the GAA seek orders including the quashing of the decision to appoint the adjudicator. OCS is a notice party.

On Thursday, Mr Justice Charles Meenan granted leave to bring a judicial review.

He also granted a stay on the adjudicator proceeding, subject to the respondents or OCS applying on 72 hours notice to remove or vary the stay.

The leave application by John Lucey SC, for Mr O’Donovan and the GAA, was made on a one-side-only represented basis.

No legal effect

Cork GAA claims the appointment was of no legal effect because the contract with OCS was entered into before the 2013 Act came into operation in July 2016. Cork GAA says the contract began a month earlier, in June 2016 when it was agreed to accept the tender made by OCS.

Mr O’Donovan, in an affidavit, says at all times the parties were agreed the contract would be performed pursuant to the June 2016 letter of intent.

There was, after completion of the stadium, a dispute over additional payment sought by OCS which was referred to conciliation which was not successful. Last September, an arbitrator was appointed and the process began for getting that in train.

However, Mr O’Donovan said, OCS indicated last June its intention to refer one of its claims to adjudication. This claim was for an additional €1.02 million comprised of increased man hour rates, delay, changed conditions, ad hoc piecemeal works and “containment” or work to cover the electrical works from view.

This was “a clear attempt to seek further payment for matters not linked to a payment date or to any application for a variation claim”, Mr O’Donovan said.

Mr Lucey, for Cork GAA, told the court the claim was “a hotch potch which was essentially a drawing together of various claims for delay and disruption.”

The matter was urgent because the adjudicator, Mr Bridgeman, has until November 30th to make his decision which can be enforced and used in any proceedings, counsel said.

Mr Justice Meenan said the matter could return to court in January.