Dunnes embroiled in ‘twist worthy of Lewis Carroll’ in shopping centre battle
High Court Judge finds Dunnes' "ulterior motive" was to create legal justification for “long-time failure” to abide by contractual obligations at Ferrybank Shopping Centre
15 December 2016
A High Court judge has ruled Dunnes Stores had an “ulterior motive” in taking a case against An Bord Pleanála concerning the Ferrybank Shopping Centre on the Waterford/Kilkenny border.
Justice Max Barrett believed Dunnes Stores had in reality, no issue with granting the centre’s developer, Deerland Construction Ltd a retention permission that allowed five minor alterations – the crux of the case presented by the retailer.
Instead the judge said Dunnes’ “ulterior motive” was to delay or avoiding complying with its contractual obligations to fit out and anchor the shopping centre – as agreed back in 2007.
In fact, The Irish Times reports Justice Barrett memorably described the turn of events as “a twist worthy of Lewis Carroll”, the author of ‘Alice in Wonderland’. He added that he believed Dunnes’ real goal was to create a contrived legal justification for its “long-time failure” to anchor the centre.
The retailer is now facing a substantial legal bill after the judge struck out its case, stating Dunnes had abused the process of the court.
This is certainly not the first time Dunnes has attempted to sue over a property deal, with previous examples including prior Ferrybank cases, Point Village, Tallaght in Dublin, and Gorey shopping centre in Wexford. However as The Irish Times points out, the retailer “has had only moderate success”.
In this latest Ferrybank ruling, Justice Barrett granted Deerland’s application for costs against Dunnes on the higher solicitor-client level. However due to An Bord Pleanála’s decision to seek its costs on the standard party-party level only, he said he would grant costs to it on that basis.