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Ronan-controlled company takes High Court action against Bewley's over alleged €747k rental arrears

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Johnny Ronan

Johnny Ronan

Johnny Ronan

The landlord of Bewley's Café on Dublin's Grafton Street has brought a legal action against the operators of the landmark premises seeking alleged rental arrears of €747,000 and possession of the property.

The action has been brought by RGRE Grafton Ltd, a company controlled by developer Johnny Ronan.

The landlord wants its action against the café operator Bewley's Café Grafton Street Ltd, where it seeks summary judgement of €747,000 and possession of the premises admitted to the fast-track Commercial Court.

The matter was briefly mentioned before Mr Justice David Barniville on Wednesday, when in an ex-parte (one side only represented) application by RGRE for permission to have the case listed for entry to the commercial list early next week.

Ross Awlyard Bl, instructed by solicitor Barbara Galvin of Eversheds, for the landlord, said the matter was urgent from his client's perspective.

Counsel said his his client was the successor in title of the premises which has been leased to the defendants since 1987.

Counsel said the annual rent due on the iconic premises was approximately €1.4m which had to be paid on a quarterly basis.

Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in the closure of many businesses, the defendant asked for a rent holiday of six months, counsel said.

Counsel said that while his client considered that, and other similar rent holiday requests for other tenants of firms within the group, Bewley's application was declined as it believed that the tenant had the means to discharge its rent obligations.

Counsel said that one of the reasons the request was refused was because the tenant's parent company, Bewley's Ltd, which it claims is owned by the family of businessman Patrick Campbell, was sitting on cash reserves of over €6m and net assets of €5m.

Counsel said was made aware of the tenant's intention to permanently close the cafe, and make all the staff redundant, through statements in the newspaper.

The café did not reopen after certain restrictions on businesses were lifted late last month, he said.

Since late April, counsel said, the defendant had not engaged in any meaningful way with RGRE, or broker an agreement to try and save the cafe business.

As a result that rent, plus interest, totalling some €747,000 is due and owing to RGBE and the landlord does not have possession of the property.

Counsel said that the rent for the premises was substantial and his client has obligations to other third parties.

Following the conclusion of counsel's submission the judge was satisfied to give the landlord permission to seek to have the action admitted to the commercial court list.

The application for entry will be heard next Monday.

Online Editors