Business Irish

Wednesday 23 January 2019

Judge tells Blackrock Clinic parties to resolve 'bitter' court battle

Larry Goodman
Larry Goodman
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

A High Court judge has urged the parties involved in marathon, bitter and costly litigation over control of Dublin's Blackrock Clinic to give "most serious consideration" to mediation to resolving their differences.

For this dispute to resolve, it will "require probably all of the principals to back down from their current positions", Mr Justice Michael Twomey said.

He told the lawyers involved to bring his judgment to the attention of the principals.

He made the comments in proceedings by Dr Joseph Sheehan concerning shareholdings in Blackrock Hospital Ltd (BHL). The case is against parties including businessman John Flynn and his company Benray and Breccia, a company linked to businessman Larry Goodman (pictured) and BHL.

BHL owns the share capital of Blackrock Clinic Ltd, co-founded in 1986 by Dr Sheehan with his fellow surgeons James Sheehan and Maurice Nelligan, and Dr George Duffy.

Dr Sheehan and Mr Flynn/Benray have separate actions against Breccia over the price sought by it for redemption of loans made by Anglo Irish Bank from 2006 to buy shares in the clinic.

The loans were sold by Nama to Breccia, which also bought shares in 2006. Last November, Mr Justice Robert Haughton refused to lift injunctions granted in 2014 which prevent Breccia calling in Dr Sheehan's loans before a full hearing of his case.

The Court of Appeal previously ruled that a receiver appointed by Breccia in 2014 over Benray's shares in BHL is entitled to sell those shares. It also overturned High Court findings that the 2006 BHL shareholders agreement included an implied term the shareholders owe each other "mutual general duties of good faith and fair dealing" and limited a shareholder's right to recover monies under another shareholder's loan.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Twomey said the "long-running and bitter private dispute", dating to late 2014, has taken up much of the court's scarce resources.

To date, it had resulted in seven judgments of the High Court and Court of Appeal, with two more pending, "no doubt millions of Euro spent on legal fees", and another High Court judge deciding to cease hearing the case further, he said.

Mr Justice Twomey on Friday gave a judgment concerning whether the remaining issues should proceed via a single unitary hearing or via a number of modules.

He directed a hearing of three modules, on grounds including best use of court resources.

The judge also urged the sides to again consider mediation of the dispute.

While there was an earlier unsuccessful mediation and the proceedings are in "full flow", that should not prevent another attempt at settlement or mediation, he said.

He was urging the parties, and particularly their lawyers who have an "overriding duty" to the court, under their code of conduct to "ensure in the public interest that the proper and efficient administration of justice is achieved" to give the "most serious consideration" to an attempt to resolve this dispute by mediation.

Irish Independent

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