Friday 6 December 2019

Former island owner entitled to €700,000 damages in dispute over sale agreement, High Court rules

Nick Faldo
Nick Faldo

Aodhan O'Faolain

THE High Court has ruled the former owner of an island is entitled to some €700,000 in damages in a dispute over a sale agreement.

Mary Molloy brought proceedings in relation Bartragh Island in Killala Bay, Co Mayo, against singer and actor Sean Simon over an agreement they entered into about the sale and purchase of the island in 1996, which was not completed.

The island was subsequently bought by a company controlled by international golfer Nick Faldo in 1997 with the intention of developing it into a championship links golf resort.

In 2003, the High Court ruled Ms Molloy, a psychotherapist and psychologist, of Quay Road, Killala, was entitled to damages against Mr Simon, of Deerpark, Loughrea, Boyle, Co Roscommon.

Ms Molloy's bid to exercise the 1996 agreement had been frustrated, the High Court found.

The case was due to proceed to assess damages. However Ms Molloy appealed the 2003 decision to the Supreme Court.

That appeal was eventually withdrawn, in 2014 the application for the assessment of damages was re-entered before the High Court.

The case returned before the court this week when Ms Justice Miriam O'Regan, after dismissing an application by Mr Simon's lawyers to

dismiss the case on grounds of delay,  assessed the amount of damages Ms Molloy was entitled to.

After taking several factors into consideration, including evidence about the value of Bartragh Island at the relevant time, the value of the sale was €1.5m, she said.

After various deductions were made from that  figure, including capital gains tax that were due when the island was sold to the Nick Faldo company, the judge ruled Ms Molloy was entitled to damages of approximately €700,000.

In addition, a smaller island off Bartragh is to be transferred to Ms Molloy, she said.

Ms Molloy had sought an order seeking specific performance of an option agreement she entered with Mr Simon in 1996 to buy the island.

She bought the island in 1989 where she intended to develop an institute for biodynamic therapy. She fell into arrears with her lender Irish Permanent who put the property out to tender.

She subsequently entered into an agreement with Mr Simon.

He was to provide IR£290,000 to purchase the property and she was given the option to buy back the property within 90 days on the basis

of her paying back IR£290,000 with an additional IR£100,000.

She had the finance in place to buy back the island, but the deal did not proceed.

The court heard Mr Simon who took out a loan with Irish Nationwide Building Society to buy the Island denied Ms Molloy's option remained enforceable.

Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS) took possession of the island because they were owed monies by Mr Simon and agreed the sale of the land for €1.5 million to Nick Faldo International in October 1997.

Speaking afterwards Ms Molloy said she welcomed the judgment, and that justice had been done.

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