Court dispute over €1.3m sale of Dublin 4 pub Bellamy's
Published 01/04/2014 | 02:30
A ROW over the planned €1.35m sale of a well-known pub has come before the Commercial Court.
The action has been brought by Billnat (Ireland) Ltd, Kells, Co Meath, and Celdon Ltd, Ranelagh, Dublin, which trade as The Willowfield Group, after it was deemed among 15 unsuccessful bidders for Bellamy's pub in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.
The case is against auctioneers Daniel Morrissey & Sons Ltd, trading as Morrissey's, with registered offices at Clare Street, Dublin, and Touchstone Taverns Ltd, with registered offices at Terenure, Dublin.
Rossa Fanning, for the defendants, told Mr Justice Peter Kelly yesterday his side considered the claims against them "wholly unsupportable on a legal basis" and wanted the case fast-tracked in the Commercial Court.
Mr Fanning said the sales process was being challenged in an unspecified way and the plaintiff companies had also registered a legal claim to the sale of the property, which was obstructing the sale. His side would be applying to have that claim lifted, he said.
Counsel for the defendants consented to the fast-tracking, but added that while her side had offered security for legal costs of the case, they disagreed with the sum of €210,480 being sought as security.
The judge agreed to fast-track it and directed a statement of claim be delivered this week.
Among the claims is that the plaintiff companies should have been seen as the preferred bidder, the judge noted.
Gavin Simons, solicitor for the defendants, said the sale was to be completed by private treaty following a process, the terms of which were set out by Morrissey's in a letter of January 15 last, expressly stating the defendants were not bound to accept the highest offer. He said 16 bids were received, including for €1.25m from the plaintiffs.
The bids were considered on February 18 when representatives of AIB attended a meeting with the directors of Touchstone Taverns and two representatives of Morrissey's, he said.
Consent of AIB, as charge holder over the pub, was required before any bid could be considered or accepted, he said.
It was decided the consortium behind the highest bid – for €1.35m – should be successful, Mr Simons said. The plaintiffs and other unsuccessful bidders were advised that same day they were not successful.
On February 18, an offer for €1.35m was made on behalf of the plaintiffs. That was increased on March 7 to €1.4m, although proof of funding was not provided, Mr Simons said.
The plaintiff companies contend they should be recognised as the preferred bidder and the sale could not proceed until their case was resolved.