Sunday 28 May 2017

CRH bids to have rival's 'scandalous' court claims thrown out

courtS

Tim Healy

CEMENT giant CRH has accused Goode Concrete of making "scandalous" claims that it and others engaged in anti-competitive practices in the industry for decades.

The claims are made in affidavits to the High Court, which yesterday heard an application from counsel for CRH seeking to strike out the allegedly scandalous material, including claims of anti-competitive conduct dating back to the 1980s.

The disputed material is included in affidavits opposing CRH's application for Goode to provide €1.5m security for costs of its legal action in which Goode claims anti-competitive practices in recent years by CRH and the Kilsaran Group effectively forced it out of business earlier this year.

Goode has said it cannot pay and the €1.5m sought should be refused on grounds the alleged conduct of the defendants created a situation where Goode went out of business and could therefore not provide security.

When the security issue came before Mr Justice John Cooke yesterday, Declan McGrath, for CRH, argued that the disputed material in the affidavits did not relate to Goode's claim for security. His side was very surprised to hear claims of anti-competitive conduct dating back to the early 1980s and such material was inadmissible, scandalous and aimed at prejudicing the court and embarrassing the defendants, he said.

In exchanges with counsel, the judge observed one of the claims made was that Kilsaran was under the control of Irish Cement or CRH and there had been co-ordinated control of some kind. He believed the argument would be made that the history of alleged collusion was relevant to this case.

Secret

Mr McGrath argued the claims of secret control of Kilsaran were not relevant to the case being made by Goode regarding security for costs. Goode had made profits "in the good times", it would be "remarkable" if it had not, he added.

John Hennessy, for Goode, said the claims were "not some kind of scandalous comment" but were "sworn evidence" by his client. If the claims were untrue, it would be straightforward for the defendants to reply stating that and they would not have to trawl, as they contended, through material dating back some decades, he added.

After hearing from the sides, the judge said he would deal later this month with the defendant's application to strike out the disputed material prior to determining the security issue.

Irish Independent

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