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Claims about waste company like 'spear tackle', say lawyers for ex-rugby star Byrne

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Legal fight: Shane Byrne at the Four Courts 
 Photo: Collins Courts

Legal fight: Shane Byrne at the Four Courts Photo: Collins Courts

CollinsPhotoAgency

Legal fight: Shane Byrne at the Four Courts Photo: Collins Courts

Lawyers for former rugby star Shane Byrne have told the High Court that certain claims about how a waste disposal company's affairs were conducted were "very damaging" and will be fully responded to.

Oxigen Environmental Ltd's application last week for interim injunctions against Mr Byrne and his brother William, arising from their conduct of the affairs of AWD Waste Solutions Ltd, was akin to the infamous "spear tackle" during the 2005 Lions tour of New Zealand, Richard Kean SC told Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds.

He said the injunctions application came after Mr Byrne had agreed to the appointment of independent auditors to AWD - of which the brothers are directors and hold a 49pc shareholding while Oxigen holds 51pc.

Ronnie Hudson, for Oxigen, said an independent auditor was not in place in AWD at the time of the application. Oxigen's proceedings concern the conduct of the affairs of AWD and include a bid to buy out the brothers' shareholding.

Oxigen became involved with AWD from 2012 but says the Byrne brothers are in control of the day-to-day running of the company's affairs from offices in Inch, Co Wexford.

Oxigen's concerns about the conduct of the affairs of AWD include claims that books and records of the company were removed and destroyed, that monies may be missing, and about payments being made in cash. It says cash jobs invoiced for emptying septic tanks which should have been charged at €250 were allegedly charged at only one cent on invoices.

It is also concerned the brothers had used company monies for "lavish" personal expenses. Those concerns were outlined in an ex parte application last week when Oxigen was granted interim injunctions restraining disposal or destruction of the books and records of AWD pending further order.

When the matter returned, Shane Byrne was in court.

Mr Kean, for both brothers, sought an adjournment to prepare a full sworn statement responding to Oxigen's claims.

While the Byrnes would comply with the court's orders, that compliance was not to be regarded as any admission of the claims made, counsel said.

Mr Hudson said Oxigen wanted an additional order, restraining the brothers from ordering material for the company or invoicing customers for work done.

The judge said that application appeared to arise from a newspaper article of October 10, which referred to Mr Byrne donating garden equipment to Aughrim Tidy Towns.

Oxigen claimed in an affidavit that donation was done without its consent and Mr Byrne had sent in an invoice which, Oxigen claims, showed disregard of Oxigen's interests.

The judge said the article, where Mr Byrne had donated garden equipment using an old company name, appeared to have "fuelled the flames".

She granted a two-week adjournment on Mr Byrne's undertaking that ordering and invoicing is limited to the actual business of the company and also urged the sides to consider mediation.

Irish Independent