Monday 26 August 2019

Supermac's loses injunction bid over outlet refurbishment works

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Aodhan O'Faolain

The High Court has dismissed a Supermac's application for an injunction preventing one of its franchise holders from carrying out refurbishment works on its premises.

The injunction was sought against John and Mary Lyons who operate a Supermac's outlet at the Ennis Road, Limerick.

Supermac's, which accept refurbishment works need to be carried out, claimed the couple were in breach of a franchise agreement which stipulates that the fast food chain itself carries out refurbishment works on its restaurants.   

Supermac's claimed it carries out such works to ensure high standards at all its outlets are maintained.

The couple denied the claims and rejected the contention they were in breach of contract. 

They argued Supermac's owner, Pat McDonagh, had known but had failed to carry out necessary refurbishments works for several years.  They also claimed the injunction application was linked to other legal proceedings involving the parties.

On Thursday Mr Justice Senan Allen dismissed the injunction application.

He said Supermac's and Mr McDonagh had worked successfully with Mr Lyons, who has operated several Supermac's franchises, for many years.

That relationship had "rapidly deteriorated" in the last five years, he said.

Mr McDonagh and the Lyons had been involved in a Circuit Court dispute over the lease of the premises at Ennis Road, he said.

Last year the Circuit Court had ruled in the Lyons' favour, but the lower court's decision was the subject of an appeal due to be heard before the High Court next month, he said.

In this case, which was  an injunction application, the court could not make any findings of fact.

The judge was satisfied from the evidence that Supermac's had not made out an arguable case likely to succeed at a full trial.

Supermac's arguments in regards to the 2000 franchise agreement "did not get out of the blocks", he said.

It appeared the 2000 franchise agreement had in fact originated in 1992, he noted.

The judge accepted the argument advanced by the defendants' lawyers that in this case damages would be an adequate remedy if Supermac's were successful in its action.

It was not likely that a businessman of Mr Lyons's experience would carry out refurbishments that would have to be undone in a year or so, he said.

The balance of convenience also favoured the dismissal of the injunction application.

The judge also made the costs of the injunction proceedings against Supermac's but placed a stay on that order pending the outcome of the full hearing of the action. 

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