Hotelier tells High Court she was given five-year lease to run Bellinter House Hotel by owners Jay Bourke and John Reynolds
Published 07/09/2015 | 17:15
Hotelier Cora Dwyer has told the High Court she was given a five year lease to run the Bellinter House Hotel by its owners restaurateur and publican Jay Bourke and leading impresario and nightclub entrepreneur John Reynolds.
In proceedings where she is seeking specific performance of parts of their contract, she denied that she had or ever would have signed up to a monthly tenancy or caretakers agreement.
Ms Dwyer, of Harris Hill, Kilcock, Co Kildare, told Mr Justice Paul Gillingan it would have been impossible to have done so because the top Navan hotel was run on a forward planning basis of up to two years for its main business of wedding receptions.
She told her counsel, James Dwyer, SC, who appeared with barrister Niall Cavanagh and David Powderly solicitors, that she had about 40 wedding bookings up to August 2017.
Johathan Bourke and John Reynolds, who trade as the Bourke Reynolds Partnership, have denied that they had given Ms Dwyer a five year lease. Counsel for Bourke and Reynolds, Gary McCarthy SC, who appeared with barrister Ross Gorman, said the Ms Dwyer did not have a written signed lease with his clients.
Ms Dwyer told the court she had entered the lease on October 29, 2013. Since April 2010 the hotel had been managed by Bellinter Hospitality Limited which was owned by Peter Brennan. She had been head hunted and became general manager as an employee of Brennan’s company in June 2010.
In January 2012 Brennan told her she had been made a co-director of his company with a five per cent shareholding which she never received. Bourke and Brennan had fallen out. She had examined invoices and bank statements and determined the hotel was operating at a profit but that there were irregular payments and invoices that did not balance. Rent and rates were in significant arrears.
Bellinter Hospitality Limited had been “evicted” and she had been encouraged to form a legal entity to take over the goodwill, management and ongoing bookings of the hotel. She told Brennan she wished to resign as a director of his company.
She said DCM Hotels Limited, of which she is a director, was registered on 24th October 2013 and had taken over the running of Bellinter House Hotel. She had honoured all future wedding bookings and hotel vouchers and took over staff with no break of service.
Ms Dwyer told the court she had taken over running the hotel on a similar lease as had existed between the Bourke Reynolds Partnership and Bellinter Hospital which, she said, she had adapted to suit the new situation with the agreement of Bourke.
She had commenced paying rent of €15,000 a month to Bank of Scotland (Ireland) which, the court was told by Mr McCarthy, was owed €12million, a loan which had been sold on to a hedge fund, Ennis Property Finance Limited.
As part of the new agreement she had corresponded with John B. O’Connor and Co, solicitors for the Bourke Reynolds Partnership reminding them of a requirement for the renewal of the liquour license at Bellinter. She had later offered an offer of €1.9million to buy the hotel but his had been refused. Mr McCarthy told the court there had been a higher bid for the hotel.
The court heard that the hotel owners had sought to remove her company, DCM Hotels Limited, from the premises. Ms Dwyer and DCM Hotels are seeking declarations that they have a valid five-year lease.
Initially Ms Dwyer had sought court orders directing Bourke Reynolds Partnership to renew a liquour license for the hotel. When told the owners could not do this if she was claiming a five-year lease her proceedings had been broadened to include a declaration that she had a valid lease.
The case continues tomorrow.