Thursday 8 December 2016

Retired grocer and wife settle action against former solicitor for alleged negligence over advice on shop sale

Tim Healy

Published 13/01/2016 | 16:34

Marie Murray from Balbriggan, Co. Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts yesterday after a High Court action taken by her and her husband, Thomas, against their former Solicitor Maurice Leahy. Photo: Courts Collins
Marie Murray from Balbriggan, Co. Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts yesterday after a High Court action taken by her and her husband, Thomas, against their former Solicitor Maurice Leahy. Photo: Courts Collins

A RETIRED grocer and his wife have settled a High Court action against their former solicitor for alleged negligence over advice given to them when they agreed to sell their shop and home to a developer.

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Thomas and Marie Murray sold their store and over-shop home at Drogheda Street, Balbriggan, Co Dublin, to Supervalu supermarket operator Luke Moriarty's company, Moriarty Spicers.

Mr Moriarty bought their property and  and an adjoining building rented out by the Murrays to a food takeaway, to expand his Supervalu supermarket.  It involved the demolition of the two Murray properties

and the building of space for the expanded supermarket along with seven other retail units and a number of apartments.

They agreed a deal whereby the Murrays would hand over vacant possession of both properties by 2005. In return,t he couple would receive  €678,000 and also get two two-bed apartments in the new development along with one of the new retail units.

However, the Murrays say, they were unable to rent out the retail unit for a number of years because of the negligence of their then solicitor, Maurice Leahy, practising as Leahy Wade and Co, Swords, Co Dublin.

They claim Mr Leahy was negligent in the advice he gave them in relation to the lease on the retail unit.

The defendant denied the claims.

Michael Delaney SC, for the Murrays, opening their case on Tuesday (Jan 12), said when the development was completed in October 2007, the landlords, Moriarty Spicer, came up with an 850-year lease for the Murrays' retail unit with a number of conditions normally used in a more restrictive 35-year lease.

The effect of these conditions was that Moriarty Spicer was able to veto potential tenants and resulted in the premises not being leased out until 2014, following an arbitrator's decision, counsel said.

They say Mr Leahy failed to ensure the lease was in accordance with the original terms of the contract when they sold their business and home.

He had also failed to advise them they had, as part of their contract, a right to refer the question of the lease to an arbitrator.

They changed solicitor in 2010 and that lawyer did refer it to and arbitrator who awarded them around €58,000.

However, counsel said, while the unit was finally rented out for €25,000 per annum to a Polish food store in 2014, this figure was below the €40,000 - €45,000 the Murrays would have expected to get had it been let out in 2008.

On Wednesday (Jan 13), Mr Delaney told Mr Justice Max Barrett the case had been settled following talks and could be struck out with an order for certain costs in favour of his clients.

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