Farm Ireland

Sunday 21 January 2018

Cattle trader loses multi-million case against Aurivo

High Court President Nicholas Kearns
High Court President Nicholas Kearns
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Mayo cattle trader, Finbar Tolan, suffered a major financial blow when the High Court last week dismissed his €4.5m loss of earnings case against Aurivo Co-op.

The ruling by the President of the High Court, Justice Nicholas Kearns, came after four days of hearings involving both junior and senior counsel for both sides.

The order for costs of up to €500,000, including all reserved and discovery costs, was made in favour of Aurivo.

The decision comes on the back of a separate judgment that ordered Mr Tolan to pay more than €150,000 from previous dealings.

Mr Tolan claimed that his business of buying and selling up to 5,000 dry cows annually was destroyed by a ban imposed by Aurivo mart manager Martin Walsh.

He produced a written document in the court showing a commitment from Aurivo mart managers to provide Mr Tolan with two weeks' credit.

Aurivo's legal representative, Ken Fogarty SC, stated that Mr Tolan was never barred from the marts.

Instead, Mr Fogarty argued that the cattle dealer ceased trading because his business was failing at the time - a claim strongly disputed by Mr Tolan.

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However, an extract from the judge's ruling reveals the true extent of the financial difficulties that Mr Tolan was facing at the time.


Mr Justice Kearns noted how the cattle dealer had succeeded in clearing his debts at the end of each year up to 2011.

By the end of February, 2011, the amount owed had reached €76,000, and €111,000 by the following September.

By the end of 2011, there was still €125,000 outstanding on Mr Tolan's account. However, within seven months this figure had almost quadrupled to €464,000.

"No managers of any mart or indeed any commercial operation could be expected to ignore outstanding sums of that magnitude," commented Mr Justice Kearns during his ruling.

However, the judge emphasised that in dismissing Mr Tolan's claim, that he had not taken into account the dealer's other debts of €245,000 owed to Castelrea mart, €101,000 to Tuam mart, or €37,000 due to Ballina mart.

He also noted that the figures had not been challenged by Mr Tolan's legal team. "This is, in many ways, a tragic case, because in one sense I believe that Mr Tolan's difficulties with the mart might have been worked out had a somewhat different approach been adopted," Mr Justice Kearns said.

"It seems to me an incredible, an extremely stressful burden to be carrying on an ongoing basis," he added, referring to the dealer's mounting debts.

Mr Tolan said that he was appealing the decision.

Indo Farming