Monday 19 February 2018

Michelle Rocca’s privacy case settles at High Court

Van Morrison and Michelle Rocca
Van Morrison and Michelle Rocca

Tim Healy

A LEGAL action by the wife of singer Van Morrison over alleged interference with privacy at her Dublin home as a result of works at a neighbour's house has been settled, the High Court heard.

In October 2010,  Michelle Morrison (nee Rocca) got leave from the court to challenge Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Council's alleged failure to protect her family's privacy when it granted planning permission for works on a neighbour's house in Dalkey.

A full hearing of the case has been pending since then and the case was before the court on a couple of other occasions in relation to disclosure of documents and legal costs.

Today,  Eamonn Galligan SC, for Ms Morrison, told High Court president Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns that following talks the case could be struck out with no order as to costs which means both sides pay their own legal bills.

Ms Morrison, of Kilross House, Sorrento Road, Dalkey, wanted the court to overturn the council's decision to accept that redevelopment work done at Desmond and Mary Kavanagh's neighbouring "Mount Alverno" home had complied with planning permission.

The council had denied her claims.  The Kavanaghs were notice parties in the case and had also disputed her claims.

Ms Morrison had claimed that without proper landscaping - and in particular the replacement of trees - her home's rear garden was overlooked by the Kavanagh property.

She asked the court to quash a notice issued by the council certifying certain works were in compliance with the planning permission.

She also claimed that before accepting that compliance notice, the council failed to take into account a number of unauthorised amendments to previous permissions granted for the Kavanagh  property, described by Ms Morrison's counsel more than three-and-a-half years ago as a 7,500 square foot "Celtic Tiger type house". 

Without the replacement of a number of trees, a "gangway" style balcony in the Kavanagh's home seriously overlooked the Morrison's rear garden while a large number of first floor windows in Mount Alverno also intrude on her family's privacy, it was claimed.

Overlooking of her driveway and front living room had already been caused by works to the entrance of Mount Alverno, it was argued.  This was  also not done in compliance with planning permission and involved the removal of a tree which was supposed to have been retained, it was claimed.

The court heard the Kavanagh's had proposed providing replacement screening between the properties with shrubs like bay laurel, holly, and cherry laurel.  Ms Morrison's experts argued what was needed were semi-mature canopy trees to match those which had  been removed.  

Ms Morrison claimed the council should not have accepted a compliance notice for Mount Alverno when the landscaping conditions, which had also been imposed in two previous planning permissions,  had not been met.

A planning permission for the Kavanagh works was granted following a Bord Pleanala appeal in August 2009 and, the following September, the council accepted a submission from the Kavanaghs as to compliance with the planning permission, the court heard.

Mr Justice Michael Hanna, who heard the application for leave to bring the case over a number of days in summer 2010, at one point urged the parties to consider talking.   He remarked: "This case is going to cost somebody an awful lot of money".

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