Friday 19 January 2018

High Court case over €412m glass bottle site purchase struck out

Tim Healy

THE long-running legal proceedings over the controversial €412m purchase in 2006 of the Irish Glass Bottle (IGB) site in Dublin's Ringsend has been fully struck out at the Commercial Court.

The case was initiated in 2008 by developer Bernard McNamara, who later filed for bankruptcy in the UK, and his company Donatex Ltd and involved multiple pre-trial applications. It was set down for hearing later this month.

Donatex and Mr McNamara alleged the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) had no lawful power to enter into the November 2006 IGB site agreement and was unable to perform its obligations under the deal, therefore frustrating the development of the site and causing substantial losses for them.

After Mr McNamara was adjudicated bankrupt last year, an issue arose whether the proceedings could be maintained in his name as a bankrupt cannot bring legal proceedings.

The UK trustees administering his bankruptcy told the Commercial Court last month they had decided against continuing the claim on behalf of the creditors of his estate.

In those circumstances, Mr Justice Peter Kelly ruled the action could not be maintained by Mr McNamara.

An issue remained as to whether Donatex, which is insolvent,  could continue with the case and lawyers for the DDDA indicated they might seek orders requiring the company to provide security for the costs of the litigation.

Today, the judge was told by Martin Hayden SC, for Donatex, that its directors had decided, given the trustees' position, the company could also no longer continue to prosecute the case.

The directors - Ann Reid and Peter O'Hagan - took that decision in recent days, it was indicated in a letter handed into the court.

In those circumstances, Mr Justice Kelly made orders striking out the proceedings and awarding costs against Donatex.

In 2010, judgment for some €62.5m and some €98m was entered respectively against Mr McNamara and Donatex over the failure by Donatex to repay loans give to it by private investors for the IGB site acquisition. The court was told neither Mr McNamara nor Donatex could pay the sums sought.

In their action against the DDDA, Mr McNamara and Donatex claimed, because of a 2008 High Court finding the DDDA acted outside its powers in how it fast-tracked permission for another docklands development at North Wall Quay, the DDDA was never entitled to enter in November 2006 into an agreement involving Mr McNamara and developer Derek Quinlan for development of the IGB site.

They alleged the DDDA was unable to perform its obligations under that IGB agreement and therefore frustrated the ability of Mr McNamara and others to develop the site.

Mr McNamara had said he faced claims totalling more than €108m on foot of guarantees given by him relating to loans raised from Anglo Irish Bank and private investors with Davy Property Holdings Ltd for the site acquisition.


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