€40m fund set up to repair new homes that are cracking
HUNDREDS of homeowners whose properties suffered serious structural damage will have their homes repaired and receive compensation after a marathon High Court case was settled yesterday.
Developers Menolly Homes and the Lagan Group have agreed to establish a €40m trust fund to repair cracks in more than 400 homes in north Dublin that were allegedly caused by pyrite, a mineral which expands in the presence of moisture and oxygen.
Lawyers for Menolly and an associated company, Killoe, which built the houses, and the Lagan Group, which supplied the material that allegedly caused the cracks, reached agreement at 1am yesterday to establish a fund after engaging in a 150-day court battle, racking up costs of more than €10m.
Neither side would reveal how much would be in the trust fund, but informed sources suggested that €40m would be set aside to repair the homes.
Menolly claimed the cracking was caused by the mineral known as 'fool's gold'.
This was denied by the Lagan Group which said the defects were caused by shoddy workmanship.
Some residents were forced to leave their homes because of the extensive damage caused. Others have been waiting years to have their properties repaired and fear they may never be able to sell their homes.
An independent mediator, Turlough O'Donnell SC, will oversee distribution of the fund to homeowners who face repair bills of up to €100,000 each.
The owners of the houses in three estates in Co Dublin -- Drynam Hall on Kettles Lane, Kinsealy; Beaupark, Clongriffin; and Myrtle, The Coast, Baldoyle -- had been waiting for the High Court case to be resolved before they could take cases for compensation.
The case began in February 2009. Yesterday, Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said that had a settlement between the two sides not been reached, it would have been July 2012 before proceedings could have been finished.
"Counsel on behalf of a substantial number of the homeowners submitted to the court on an earlier occasion that the monies being expended on this litigation would be better utilised in remediating the homeowners' houses.
"There can be no need for this court to have to stress that there can only be an upside to the benefit of the homeowners that this litigation be finally and conclusively settled."
Counsel for Menolly, Brian O'Moore, told the Commercial Court yesterday that both sides had agreed to settle the matter.
The case had taken so long to hear because of the "technical and reputational" issues involved for both sides, and the "turning point" was last July when the judge advised both parties to enter a mediation process chaired by Mr O'Donnell, who will now "immediately engage" with the affected homeowners.
The judge agreed to adjourn the case until December 21 next to give homeowners time to decide whether to accept the mediation process. Solicitors representing the 400 affected homeowners also agreed to adjourn the case.