Sunday 22 September 2019

Well-known Dublin restaurant gets injunction to reopen after landlord took possession of property

The court heard the restaurant is in a dispute over "alleged historic arrears of rent" of more than €140,000

Belluccis restaurant in Ballsbridge
Belluccis restaurant in Ballsbridge

Tim Healy

A Dublin restaurant has secured a High Court injunction allowing it to reopen after its landlord took possession of the property on Wednesday morning.

The order was secured by Bel & Bellucci Ltd, of whom well-known businessman Robbie Fox is a director, and which operates an Italian restaurant on the ground floor of the Sweepstakes Centre in Ballsbridge.

The court heard the restaurant is in a dispute over "alleged historic arrears of rent" of more than €140,000.

Dylan West Bl, for the restaurant, said the matter was very urgent for his client because the landlord had, without any prior notice, taken possession of the premises. 

Ms Justice Caroline Costello granted the restaurant an injunction against the landlord, Knockanore Properties, and a security company engaged by the landlord to take possession of the premises K-Tech Security. 

The orders prevent the defendants from interfering with Bel & Bellucci's access to the premises and restrains the defendants from interfering with the restaurant's use of the premises. 

The application was made on notice to the defendants.

Gavin Mooney Bl,  for Knockanore, said it was accepted there was a dispute between the parties, and his side was prepared to allow the restaurant operators back into the premises pending the final outcome of the action.

The restaurant would continue to operate the terms of its lease until the matter has been determined, counsel added. 

In a sworn statement seeking the injunction, Mr Fox said he was unable to access the restaurant after the landlord's agent forced entry and took possession of the property early on Wednesday morning.

Security staff were posted on the premises, and the locks were changed, he said.

He said the landlord had issued a forfeiture notice on the company in respect of the premises last April.

It alleges that over €140,000 in rental arrears are owed, which Mr Fox said he disputes. Attempts to resolve matters were not finalised, he said.  

Mr Fox said that after the notice was issued company continued to make full rental payments to the landlord, which it accepted.

On that basis, Mr Fox said that the notice has been waived by the landlord.

He said that due to what he said was an illegal repossession the business had suffered financial and reputational damage.

He said he had to send staff members home as there was no work for them, and he was unable to contact customers who had made reservations.

The restaurant is near the RDS and the Aviva Stadium and he feared the business would lose a lot of trade generated by events scheduled to occur at these venues in the coming weeks.

The Judge adjourned the case to a date in June and said it was likely the case would be remitted to the Circuit Court for determination.

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