Family members in High Court dispute over jewellery business

Two brothers in Claddagh ring business take proceedings against each other

 

 

A dispute between some members of a family whose firm sells and makes jewellery, including the world-famous Claddagh rings has come before the High Court.

The row involves brothers Andrew and Philip Fried, shareholders of Claddagh Jewellers with stores in Galway and Dublin as well as online sales.

The company markets itself as “the home of the authentic Claddagh Ring”, employs 30 people and has a turnover of €4 million per year.

The brothers’ father Laszlo Fried, who migrated to Ireland from Hungary, established a separate jewellery business known as “Lazlo Jewellers, ” in Dublin in the 1960s.

Andrew Fried, of Leac Lian, Bearna, Co Galway, has brought proceedings against Philip whom he claims has, in conjunction with their father, who is not a shareholder or director of the Claddagh firm, attempted to interfere with and frustrate the company’s business.

Andrew Fried, represented by Brian Conroy BL, claims the alleged actions are oppressive and have undermined the capacity of the company to operate effectively.

It is claimed Philip Fried, along with his father, have for some time been interfering with the company’s suppliers.

There is also a dispute between the parties over €100,000 worth of diamonds, rubies, emeralds and gems allegedly removed from the company by Philip Fried and currently held in a safe at a related company.

Andrew Fried wants various orders, including for return of the gemstones, prohibiting Philip and others from contacting the company’s suppliers, and requiring Philip to either sell Andrew his stake in the company or buy Andrew out.

He also seeks a declaration that Philip’s actions are in total disregard and oppressive of Andrew as a member of the company.

The claims are denied.

Separate proceedings

In separate, but related, proceedings against Andrew Fried and Claddagh Ring Ltd, Philip Fried of Thornberry, Bearna, claims he is the sole owner of the trademark “Claddagh Jewellers”.

In that action, Philip Fried, represented by Stephen Moran BL, seeks various orders and declarations including one restraining his brother and the company infringing what Philip claims is his trademark.

The dispute has been mentioned before Ms Justice Leonie Reyolds on a number of occasions over the last number of weeks.

The judge initially granted an order, under section 212 of the 2014 Companies Act, preventing the media reporting on the case.

The order was granted on the basis the dispute concerned a family business and the public airing of the dispute had the potential to prejudice and cause irreparable damage to the business and further undermine the family relationship.

After mediation had, to date, failed to resolve the dispute, and arising out of the bringing of further proceedings concerning the trademark, the judge lifted the in-camera order, allowing the media to report on the case.

The judge, noting the dispute involves members of the same family, encouraged the parties to try and mediate their differences. The matter returns before the court next week.