Food firm ordered to vacate Esso garages

Court rules Nine One One not entitled to remain in occupation of 32 premises

Esso Ireland is entitled to court orders requiring food services company Nine One One Retail to leave 32 Esso garages where it has been providing food and other services, the High Court has ruled.

Mr Justice Brian McGovern yesterday upheld claims by Esso Ireland Ltd and Ireland Roc Ltd, which own and operate the 32 premises, that Nine One One was not entitled to remain in occupation of the premises on foot of operating agreements and licences which had expired.

Nine One One, under a concession agreement of 2001, had entered into an agreement with Esso to provide hot and cold food facilities at the Esso service station at Sandford Road, Ranelagh, Dublin, and similar arrangements were entered into concerning 31 other service stations under an operating agreement of June 2002. The food facilities were operated under the name On The Run.

Termination notice
While there were negotiations in 2012 concerning a further operating agreement, Esso claimed the existing operating agreement, having been extended in May 2012 for another year, was to end in June 2013. In May 2013, it issued a notice of termination.


Nine One One argued that the operating agreement had not been validly terminated and continued to operate the On The Run food services.

Esso initiated legal proceedings alleging Nine One One was in unlawful occupation of the premises. Nine One One counterclaimed for damages on grounds including alleged breach of contract.

In his reserved judgment, Mr Justice McGovern concluded that Nine One One was not entitled to assert a tenancy or to an additional or extended notice period in relation to Esso’s termination of the operating agreement. The agreement had provided it would be for a fixed term and, when that term expired, the defendant would vacate the premises, he said. The licence agreement also clearly stated no relationship of landlord and tenant existed between the parties.

Damages claim rejected
He rejected claims by Nine One One that Esso had an enforceable duty to negotiate in good faith and also found Nine One One had failed to demonstrate any want of good faith by Esso and Ireland Roc. Given those findings, Nine One One was not entitled to damages on those grounds, he ruled.

Mr Justice McGovern also dismissed claims by Nine One One of entitlement to damages for alleged breach of contract based on claims Esso had failed to apply certain of the fees paid to it by Nine One One towards advertising.

The judge also noted Esso had previously offered, on terms and on without prejudice, some €250,000 to Nine One One to settle its claims for losses related to s 2004-2009, including claims concerning advertising and loss-making stores, but that offer was not accepted on the terms offered.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times