Van Morrison wife privacy case to go ahead despite alleged settlement

High Court heard Morrison may lose representation after dispute with solicitor

A sitting of the High Court today heard that Michelle Morrison may be left without legal representation for the 10-day hearing, due to begin on June 30th, after her legal counsel James Foy requested to be taken off-record for the case following a dispute between the two. Photograph: Graham Hughes/Photocall Ireland

A sitting of the High Court today heard that Michelle Morrison may be left without legal representation for the 10-day hearing, due to begin on June 30th, after her legal counsel James Foy requested to be taken off-record for the case following a dispute between the two. Photograph: Graham Hughes/Photocall Ireland

 

A privacy case involving the wife of singer Van Morrison looks set to go ahead this month despite a settlement allegedly being reached between the parties last year.

A sitting of the High Court today heard that Michelle Morrison may be left without legal representation for the 10-day hearing, due to begin on June 30th, after her legal counsel James Foy requested to be taken off-record for the case following a dispute between the two.

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan was told the relationship between the solicitor and his high-profile client had “irreparably broken down” following a dispute over the terms of a settlement which were allegedly agreed with one of the case defendants, Ms Morrison’s neighbours Desmond and Mary Kavanagh.

They, along with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, became the subject of a legal action by Ms Morrison after the council gave planning permission for a redevelopment of their Dalkey home which would allegedly overlook the Morrisons’ neighbouring property at Kilross House, Sorrento Road.

In February 2014, president of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns was informed that the case would be struck out following a settlement between the sides, the exact details of which were not publicised.

Representatives for Ms Morrison said an agreement had been made to “compromise matters” and each party had undertaken to “do certain things in relation to the disposition of their properties”.

However, Ms Morrison argues that the terms of the agreement have not been complied with, and is now “utterly unprepared” for the case to go ahead as her solicitors have not prepared any substantial legal argument on her behalf.

An essential witness for Ms Morrison is also “absolutely unavailable” for the trial date set.

In response, counsel for Mr Foy said he received instructions from Ms Morrison not to prepare for a trial hearing “as far back as 2013”, and relations between the two have now “irrevocably broken down”.

Alluding to allegations over payments of legal fees which arose in affidavits sworn by Ms Morrison and Mr Foy, counsel for Ms Morrison said she was previously presented with an estimate of €450,000 and that there was “no question of not discharging fees which had been sought”.

Commenting on the dispute, Mr Justice Gilligan encouraged Ms Morrison and Mr Foy to see if there is any chance of resolving their disagreement.

“If the matter cannot be resolved on a satisfactory basis that leaves Ms Morrison without a solicitor and presumably without counsel… that would be an unfortunate situation,” he said.

The parties will appear again before Mr Justice Gilligan on a chancery list on Thursday.

As part of the original action, Ms Morrison wanted the court to overturn the Council’s decision to accept that redevelopment work at the Kavanaghs’ Mount Alverno home complied with planning permission. However, in February it was proposed the case would be struck out with both sides supposedly agreeing to pay their own legal bills.

The council and the Kavanaghs, who were a notice party to proceedings, denied the claims put forward.

The court heard the Kavanaghs wanted to provide replacement screening between the properties using shrubs, but it was argued that semi-mature canopy trees were needed in order to provide a suitable replacement for what was removed.

Counsel for Ms Morrison said that without a suitable protective screen a “gangway” balcony in the Kavanaghs’ home would overlook the neighbouring property.

Planning permission for the Kavanagh works was granted following a Bord Pleanála appeal in August 2009 and, the following September, the council accepted a submission from the Kavanaghs to comply with the planning permission, the court heard.

Mr Justice Michael Hanna, who heard the application for leave to bring the case in summer 2010, had at one point urged the parties to consider talks, remarking: “This case is going to cost somebody an awful lot of money”.