German glass firm loses €16m Anglo HQ case
A GERMAN firm contracted to do "no expense spared" glazing for the facade of the proposed Dublin headquarters of Anglo Irish Bank has lost its action for compensation, taken when the project did not proceed.
Mr Justice John Cooke ruled that Metallbau Fruh GMBH had failed to make out claims that it was entitled to compensation on grounds including negligence and breach of duty by the bank, which collapsed in 2008, was nationalised and renamed Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).
The headquarters, previously described by Mr Justice Peter Kelly as "infamous" and a "more fitting tombstone to the supposed Celtic Tiger", is part of a site on the north quays.
The Central Bank recently signed contracts with NAMA and the receiver of developer Liam Carroll's North Quay Investments Ltd to buy the site for €7m.
In its action, Metallbau said it became involved with others in 2007 in the development of Anglo's proposed new HQ at North Wall Quay and was invited to tender for design, supply and installation of a facade/ glazing system.
It claimed it was contracted to carry out the glazing for €15.87m, plus VAT, in respect of an eight-storey building with an agreed uplift of €2.57m, plus VAT, if the building was altered to a 10-storey property.
It claimed the value of works by it on the project by mid-October 2008 amounted to €8.14m but it had only ever been paid €450,000.
Metallbau claimed Anglo held itself out as "a responsible, properly regulated and appropriately capitalised" institution which could be expected to fulfil commitments undertaken by it and to "act responsibly and ethically" with regard to its business affairs.
It claimed the development of the property was at all times being funded by Anglo whose input, consent and approval was at all times necessary before any major step to undertake the development could be undertaken by North Quay Investments Ltd (NQIL), as primary developer, and/or Danninger, as main contractor.
It alleged negligence by Anglo on grounds that it failed to warn the firm from late 2007 that a legal challenge had been brought to the validity of the planning permission.
Unknown to Metallbau, proceedings were brought against NQIL and the Dublin Docklands Development Authority which ultimately led to a High Court judgment of October 2008 which rendered the entire development unauthorised and illegal.
The company had already carried out certain works when it was issued with a works suspension notice in October 2008. As a result, it claimed it suffered an immediate loss of productivity and also incurred transportation, demobilisation and storage costs.
Anglo was forced to withdraw from the development as a result of its own economic circumstances, it was claimed. While NQIL in late 2010 obtained a new statutory consent for the development, it had lost all commercial viability by then, it was also argued.
Because NQIL and Danninger were placed in receivership in late 2009, the action was brought against Anglo as the "sole remaining wrongdoer in a position to compensate the plaintiff".
In his judgment, Mr Justice Cooke found the company had failed to show the necessary relationship of proximity to enable the court to find negligence or breach of duty of care.
He also found that statements made to the company at a meeting in Germany in 2009 by some of those involved in the project were not binding on the bank and could not be taken as the bank authorising others to sign off on certain matters.