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'Privileged' couple who split after 17 years together in legal battle over property business - amid claims of affairs and trespass



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A businesswoman has sued her former partner claiming she is entitled to a share in a property business they allegedly built up together over many years.

But the High Court action involving a couple who once enjoyed a yacht and luxury home in France has involved claims of sexual affairs from both sides, as well as trespass and betrayal.

The action been brought by Ali Barker against Owen Owens with an address at Rochfort, The Burnaby, Greystones Co Wicklow and a company he founded, Dunbury Holdings. 

Ms Barker seeks various declarations including that the company constitutes a quasi-partnership between her and Mr Owens, and they are entitled to 50pc each of the equity in the partnership.

She also seeks a declaration that the company and Mr Owens' business activities comprise of a partnership between Ms Barker and the businessman.

She further seeks a declaration that she is a cohabitant within the meaning of the 2010 Civil Partnership Act.

Ms Barker of Hillcourt Park, Glenageary, Co Dublin, also seeks damages.

The claims are denied by Mr Owens.  He says no business partnership ever existed between him and Ms Barker.

The couple split in 2010, after 17 years together. She claims that she and Mr Owens got together after her marriage to another party didn't work out.

She claims shortly after they got together, she, on his invitation, quit her job in the retail business, and worked with him in the property business.

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She claims she added to the business and helped it build up a substantial portfolio by acquiring commercial, retail and residential properties mainly in the Dublin area.

She became a director of the firm in 2002 and was first paid a salary in 2005.

She claims the business, which she was very actively involved with was very successful and allowed them to enjoy a privileged lifestyle. In 1999 they had a daughter together.

They had a substantial home in Wicklow, a €1.6m holiday home in Mougins, France, a personal staff contingent, luxury vehicles, a 47ft yacht, horses, luxury travel, and significant spending power.

In 2010, the relationship broke down, and there were difficulties between the two.

Ms Barker claims Mr Owens had cynically engineered a situation to end their personal relationship in order to deprive her of the protections and rights she claims she would have been entitled to under the Civil Partnership Act.

She claims that she moved out of the home they shared due to his behaviour and that he directed the company to discontinue paying her and excluded her from the business.

She also claims that Mr Owens commenced a relationship with a friend of hers, which she believes began when Ms Barker and Mr Owens were still together.

In his defence and counterclaim, Mr Owen says he never provided a guarantee of life long security through a partnership with him.

He never invited her to resign from her job in 1994 as claimed, or that she worked with him or developed his property interests.

The only business relationship he had with her was from 2005 to 2010 when she was a salaried employee of his business.  It was accepted she became a director of the company.

He rejects claims his behaviour towards her deteriorated in 2010. He said it deteriorated due to Ms Barker's conduct.

In 2009 he said he first became aware that Ms Barker, then in her mid-forties, had been involved in sexual relationships with men living near them, who were considerably younger than her. 

These men, he claims, were aged in their twenties while another was a married man.

He also rejected claims he cynically engineered a situation to deprive her of protections under the 2010 Act and says she has not entitlements under the act which commenced in January 2011, when their relationship ended in April 2010.

He also said his new relationship commenced after his and Ms Barker's had ended.

In his counterclaim, he seeks orders including for possession at the house she resides at in Glenageary, which he says he is the registered owner of. 

He also wants the court to order Ms Barker, and relevant others including her current partner, to vacate and 'cease trespassing' at that property. 

The case before Mr Justice John Jordan was adjourned on Wednesday after the parties entered into discussions aimed at resolving the dispute.

It will return before the judge on Thursday.