South docks waterfront row opens before Commercial Court

By Ann O'Loughlin

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 Mr Pat Crean, which is behind a planned €100m commercial and residential development on the site against Chambury Investment Company which is connected to Mr Johnny Ronan.

Balark claims its project is being delayed by the contention by Chambury 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 €20m.

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 Mr Justice Robert Haughton at the Commercial Court today.

In its proceedings Balark wants the Court to determine its entitlement to acquire that fee simple interest in the affected lands.

Chambury opposes the claim and argue that Balark is not entitled to acquire the fee simple.

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 Balark says is a completely inflated sum for that interest.

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

Title records show Mr 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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