Judge rejects right of way claims over Oatfield factory land

Confectionery family claimed land entrance was used for oil deliveries to bungalow

The court heard that Zopitar Ltd, owned by Donegal Creameries plc, which bought the property  missed out on an opportunity to sell it to supermarket chain Lidl for almost €2 million.

The court heard that Zopitar Ltd, owned by Donegal Creameries plc, which bought the property missed out on an opportunity to sell it to supermarket chain Lidl for almost €2 million.

 

A family of confectioners who came up with the “Emeralds” sweets brand were not entitled to assert rights of way over their former factory lands in Donegal, the High Court has ruled.

The estate of a member of the McKinney family, who set up Oatfield Sweets in 1930, had no entitlement to the rights of way across the former sweet factory premises in Letterkenny, Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said.

As a result of the asserting of this right, a company owned by Donegal Creameries plc, which bought the property from the McKinneys, missed out on an opportunity to sell it to supermarket chain Lidl for €1.9 million, the court heard.

Demolished

Zopitar

Ms McKinney, since deceased, asserted the right when she learned in 2011 the factory was to be sold to Lidl, the court heard. She offered to extinguish the alleged rights of way if work was carried out on her own home, Oatfield Bungalow along with the payment of €500,000.

Zopitar asked the court to declare there were never any rights of way, and also sought damages as a result of the lost sale to Lidl.

Ms McKinney’s nephew, Harold Jacob, administrator of her estate who took over the action when she died, denied the claims and counterclaimed.

Oil deliveries

Finding against Mr Jacob, Mr Justice Gilligan was satisfied the use of the factory premises for access to the McKinney home did not constitute a legal right of way over the property.

Ms McKinney’s assertion of a right did not meet a requirement of the 1832 Prescription Act that there must be 20 years continuous use of the alleged right of way, he said.

The use of the factory to access Oatfield Bungalow was tolerated by the factory owners and, despite a number of opportunities over the years to assert rights of way, they were never made, he said.