Two firms linked to famous developers are at loggerheads over land at Dublin's south docks

A dispute between companies connected with Pat Crean and Johnny Ronan has come before the courts.

By Aodhan O'Faolain

A DISPUTE BETWEEN two companies linked to two well-known developers over the ownership of sections of Dublin’s south docks waterfront district has opened before the Commercial Court.

The proceedings relate to a row between Balark Investments, part of the Marlet Group led by Pat Crean, which is behind a planned a €100 million commercial and residential development on the site, against Chambury Investment Company which is connected to Johnny Ronan.

Balark claims its project is being delayed by Chambury’s claims its interest in part of the land at Lime Street and Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, overlooking the River Liffey and the Samuel Beckett Bridge, is worth €20 million.

However, Balark says the Circuit Court has already ruled that Chambury’s interest in the disputed land is just €60,000 and that is all Balark has to pay to acquire the sections of land at the centre of the dispute. Chambury appealed the Circuit Court’s decision.

Both the appeal and separate proceedings brought by Balark, where it seeks a declaration from the court that it is entitled to demolish the buildings on the disputed lands, commenced before Justice Robert Haughton at the Commercial Court.

In its proceedings, Balark, represented by Declan McGrath SC and Paul Coughlan Bl, wants the court to determine its entitlement to acquire that fee simple interest in the affected lands.

Chambury, represented by Paul Gardiner SC and Gavin Mooney Bl, oppose the claim and argue that Balark is not entitled to acquire the fee simple.

High Court case

When the matter was admitted to the Commercial Court list earlier this year, Balark said in a sworn statement that Chambury has sought to frustrate the development by using its freehold interest in certain lots of the site as a form of ransom strip in an attempt to force Balark to pay what it says is a completely inflated sum for that interest.

It is also claimed that Johnny Ronan had bought the freehold interest in the affected lots in June 2015. However, in September 2015,  Ronan’s lawyers said he was no longer the owner.

Title records show Ronan transferred the freehold interest to Chambury in October 2015.

Subsequently, Chambury brought proceedings alleging breaches of covenant under the leases for these lots by Balark and served forfeiture notices on Balark.

In June 2016, the High Court rejected Chambury’s case.

Balark then sought about acquiring the fee simple interest which resulted in a Circuit Court ruling in July 2017 setting the value of Chambury’s interest at €60,000.

The hearing continues on Tuesday but is not expected to conclude before Christmas.

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