A dispute over a Dublin redevelopment site, which shot up in value after it was rezoned for housing earlier this year, has come before the Commercial Court.
The Millers' printing site on Davitt Road, Dublin, was bought for €1.4 million in 2017. Last March it was rezoned from mixed use to residential, giving it a value of some €12.5 million. Ownership of the site was eventually transferred to a company called Heidelberg Davitt of Morehampton Road, Dublin.
Ownership of that company was divided between Belfast-based businessman Eamonn McCann (25 per cent), his son Edmund McCann (50 per cent), of Morehampton Road, and Eamonn's business partner James Campbell of Purser Gardens, Rathmines, Dublin.
The ownership was to reflect the finance, some €1 million, provided by Edmund, his wife Stephanie and a company the couple own called Clisshold Capital. For tax and planning purposes, Mr Campbell's 25 per cent stake was held by a company called Windspiel Ltd, while Eamonn McCann's 25 per cent was held by a company called JAC Industries Ltd.
However, in High Court proceedings by Mr Campbell's Windspiel company against the Edmund and Stephanie McCann, Clisshold and Heidelberg Davit, it is claimed that since the rezoning occurred, there has been an attempt to oust Mr Campbell from any further involvement in the development of the former printing site and to dilute his company's shareholding.
This was done at an extraordinary general meeting last May when, Mr Campbell claims, the McCann husband and wife passed a resolution to allot and issue shares.
Mr Campbell says he was subsequently told that any authority to act on behalf of the site owning company, Heldelberg Davitt, was withdrawn and/or revoked and he was to cease all further involvement relating to the company and its property.
The reason put forward for this, Mr Campbell says in an affidavit, was that additional resources were required for the project and that it found itself in a "dire" financial position because of the alleged unlawful and illegal extraction of some €334,000 from Heildelberg.
These monies, it was claimed, were for other projects and personal withdrawals from the company's bank account for both Mr Campbell and Mr (Eamonn) McCann. The claim is strenuously denied by Mr Campbell.
Breach of trust
In an affidavit seeking to have the Windspiel case against the husband and wife and the companies admitted to the Commercial Court, Mr Campbell says the former printing site was identified as part of a partnership he and Eamonn McCann set up in 2014 to identify redevelopment opportunities in Dublin.
As Mr McCann is based in Belfast, the overwhelming amount of work fell to Mr Campbell who says he has more than 40 years experience in property and commercial expertise.
He says he set about engaging planners and architects to make representations to Dublin City Council and the site was rezoned for residential use this year. He says it was one of 120 sites considered by the council and only one of 17 eventually rezoned. He puts its value now at €12.5 million.
His company Windspiel is seeking orders including the setting aside last May's allotment of shares by the McCann couple as invalid, a breach of trust and made with improper motives.
On Monday, Mr Justice David Barniville was told there was consent between the parties for admission of the case to the fast-track commercial list. He approved a list of agreed directions on how the case should proceed and said it can come back to court on March 1st.