Owner of firm's claim for unfair dismissal thrown out
A TRIBUNAL has thrown out an unfair dismissal claim by one of the Butterly brothers whose family owned the tragic Stardust niteclub – on the grounds that he was the sole owner of the company and not an employee.
The action was being taken against Patrick Butterly & Sons Ltd, which is in receivership, in conjunction with Patrick Butterly & Sons (Farms) Ltd.
However, Dublin solicitors firm Gartlan Furey, acting for the receivers, said it was "not clear" to them that Mr Butterly was an employee of the company.
They also claimed the position Mr Butterly held was made redundant once the receivership came into place.
Colm Butterly told an Employment Appeals Tribunal that he considered himself an employee of the company, having worked there since 1964 when he left school at the age of 17 until the receivership application.
He said the Butterly family company had started out as a small gardening firm before expanding into the entertainment and licensing business and, "latterly, property development and property rental".
Mr Butterly said he was a shareholder and director at the company and that at the time the receiver was appointed was owner of 100pc of the shares, having bought out his brother Eamon in 2008 when he had wanted to sell the firm in order to retire.
Mr Butterly explained that he had got into debt with AIB after he had bought his brother out.
The chairman of the tribunal said that "anyone with more than 15pc of the shares was not an employee," pointing out that he would have to be an employee in order to benefit from the legislation and qualify for unfair dismissal.
Speaking to the Irish Independent afterwards, Mr Butterly repeated that he had always regarded himself as an employee of the family firm.
"The thing that got my back up was that the receiver was appointed when I was out of the country," he said.
"The way things went, it was the wrong time to buy," he explained, of his buyout of his brother's stake.
"There's no point crying about it," he added, revealing that he would now take a look at "taking on the banks".
In 2004, the Patrick Butterly group had assets of over €10.9m in the form of shares owned in subsidiary companies.
In the mid-1990s, the interests of Patrick and Eileen Butterly and a number of their children in the group were bought out by Eamon and Colm.
The group owned the Butterly Business Park on the Kilmore Road in Artane, Dublin, where the Stardust was located.