Thursday 18 January 2018

Stena Dublin Port contract court fight is fast-tracked

Stena had given notice it was ending a €4m Dublin Port contract
Stena had given notice it was ending a €4m Dublin Port contract

Tim Healy

A DISPUTE between Stena Line and Doyle Shipping Group over the provision of services for ferries docking at Dublin Port is to be fast-tracked by the Commercial Court.

Doyle Shipping Group (DSG) had operated a contract with Stena Line to provide services to allow Stena's ferries to dock at Dublin Port. The services include stevedoring, checking-in and out of passengers, loading and unloading freight and administration services.

The contract for the provision of the services, which was renewed on a periodical basis, was worth €4m per year.

Last August, Stena informed DSG that it was ending the agreement, and gave three months' notice. DSG claims that the notice is invalid.

DSG, which provides services at all of Ireland's major ports, argues the termination notice is in breach of an oral agreement it says it negotiated with Stena in 2015 for the provision of services at Dublin Port till 2022.

As a result, DSG seeks declarations against Stena including that the termination notice is invalid and of no effect, and that the 2015 agreement, the terms of which it has been operating, is binding.

It also seeks injunctions restraining Stena from breaching the contract with DSG, and from transferring any of DSG contractual obligations to any other party. DSG further seeks an order preventing Stena from removing or evicting it from any of the properties or locations in Dublin Port where it operates.

Paul Gallagher SC, for DSG, said there was some urgency to the proceedings particularly as the purported termination is due to take place on December 1. There are concerns for the jobs of the 53 people employed by his client involved in the work. Stena opposes the action and claims that the termination notice is valid.

It says that it is entitled to terminate the agreement on three-months' notice based on a provision of an agreement the parties entered into in 2011.

In its separate proceedings against DSG, Stena, which has entered into a contract with another party to provide the services at Dublin Port, seeks a declaration that its termination notice of August 31 last is valid.

It also seeks an injunction restraining DSG from obstructing or interfering with its activities in connection with the removal of freight and its passengers services at the 5.16 hectare section of the port, off Alexandra Road in Dublin 3, where Stena operates from.

If necessary, Stena also seeks an order for possession of that section of Dublin Port where its ferries operate from.

Both sets of proceedings were admitted to the fast track Commercial Court list by Mr Justice Brian McGovern yesterday.

The case comes back later this month.

Irish Independent

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