Tuesday 27 September 2016

Michelle Morrison must pay costs of abandoned High Court case over sea view, judge rules

Published 17/11/2015 | 12:08

Michelle Rocca leaving the High Court.
Michelle Rocca leaving the High Court.

MICHELLE Morrison will have to pay the costs of her abandoned High Court case over sea views from her Dalkey home against a neighbour, a judge ruled.

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However, Mr Justice David Keane rejected an application from neighbours Conor and Eileen Kavanagh that Ms Morrison pay more punitive costs than normal because of what they claimed was a vexatious and unstateable case.

Last month, as her case was due to enter its fifth day, her counsel told the court Ms Morrison had "considered the matter over the weekend and decided she does not wish to proceed with her claim".

It came in the wake of a public statement issued by singer Van Morrison, who was married to Ms Morrison, in which he said he had "no part" in the legal action and said he had never lived in Kilross House, Sorrento Road, Dalkey.

The case “was brought by Michelle Rocca and I have no part in it ", he said.

He added: “As we have been legally separated since September 2013 I would appreciate if I was not included in any further references to this ongoing action.”

Following the withdrawal of the case, Mr Justice Keane put the question of costs back to today after hearing arguments on the matter from both sides.

The case concerned work carried out on rebuilding and landscaping work on the Kavanagh's home, Mount Alverno, which Ms Morrison said interfered with views from her home.

During her evidence, Ms Morrison said sea views of Dalkey Island were important and privacy was also an important consideration for Van who liked to be able to get out of his car and go to to front door without being overlooked.

It was Ms Morrison's second action over work by  Mount Alverno by the Kavanaghs. The previous one, brought against the local council in relation to compliance with planning permission, was settled.

Esmonde Keane SC, for the Kavanaghs, asked the court to "mark its opprobrium" over what was a vexatious and unstateable case by awarding costs beyond the normal of five days in court.  This was so that his clients would recover the actual costs there had been in defending the case, including solicitor/client costs, he said.

Their enjoyment of their principal private residence had been "utterly tarnished" and their lives had been made "a living hell" for the last six years during which it was abundantly clear there was no basis for the claim, counsel said.

The evidence which had been heard during the four days of the case showed  no support for her claim there was an agreement the sea views would be preserved.

Mark Sanfey SC, for Ms Morrison, said his client fully accepted she was go to have to pay legals costs but because she was not proceeding, the court should not infer the case was falling apart or was frivolous, vexatious and unstateable in the first place.

What the defendants' counsel wanted to do "was punish the plaintiff (Morrison) for saving the court time", Mr Sanfey said.

Life had "not been a picnic" for either the Morrisons or the Kavanaghs who had a very public falling out between them not just in this case but in the previous case, he said.

He asked the court to award only normal costs.

In his decision today, Mr Justice Keane  said he was exercising his discretion to only award normal costs and not the more punitive order sought by the defendants.

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