Wednesday 13 December 2017

I didn't break mediation terms – boss of sports club

Court told of row over facility in Leopardstown racecourse

Tim Healy

A BUSINESSMAN who operates a sports club on part of Leopardstown racecourse in Dublin deliberately breached a mediation agreement which was supposed to have settled a long running and costly row between him and the racecourse owners, it was claimed in the High Court.

Philip Smyth, principal of Templeville Developments, which has facilities in two huge inflatable domes on the racecourse as part of its Westwood gym and fitness centre, denies the claim and says he was induced into the settlement on the basis of misrepresentation by the racecourse operators, Leopardstown Club.

Mr Smyth claims it was Leopardstown Club that was in breach of the agreement, including by interfering with car parking and access for his sports club customers.

Leopardstown Club claims Mr Smyth's staff were behind for a number of incidents deliberately designed to create grievances so that the settlement would not have to be adhered to. This included one incident in which a number of barriers used to regulate parking on raceday, along with wooden benches, were dumped and damaged.

Judge Peter Charleton yesterday began hearing an action, due to last four weeks, brought by Leopardstown Club arising out of alleged repudiation by Templeville and Mr Smyth of that mediation settlement made in October 2011. Mr Smyth is counter-claiming alleging Leopardstown Club has breached the settlement terms.

Templeville had entered into a new lease agreement in 1998 which became the subject of a serious dispute after an arbitrator ruled Mr Smyth was entitled to the use of 5.5 acres for car parking purposes, counsel said. A car park area had to be replaced because part of the racecourse lands had to be used for the soon-to-be constructed southern cross section of the M50 motorway.

That decision was challenged in the High Court which in 2010 ruled Mr Smyth had unethically exploited an ambiguity in the lease and licence in relation to car parking and Leopardstown Club was entitled to rectification of that matter, Michael McDowell for the club, said.

Parallel with the car parking dispute, there were a number of other ongoing issues between Mr Smyth and Leopardstown Club, mainly about rent, service charges and signage.

An agreement was reached in October 2011, part of which included Mr Smyth agreeing to pay just over €2m immediately in rent arrears with another €1.5m to be paid in August 2012.

But almost from the word go, Mr Smyth acted in bad faith, Mr McDowell said.

The case continues.

Irish Independent

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