Dunnes Stores not happy with architectural quality of Point Square, court hears

Dunnes Stores remains Ireland's most popular supermarket, while Aldi and Lidl are still growing

Whether the completed Point Square meets a “first-class standard appropriate to a prestigious shopping centre" is central to the dispute

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31 May 2022 | 0

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Dunnes Stores is not satisfied with the quality of the architecture of a communal square in the Point Village development in Dublin’s docklands, The Irish Times has reported.

The retailer brought proceedings to the Commercial Court against Point Village Development Ltd (PVDL) asking that Point Square be completed in accordance with a clause in an agreement on the development.

It says the clause requires that the work on the square be of a “first-class standard appropriate to a prestigious shopping centre, commensurate with the newly redeveloped Eyre Square in Galway and Grand Canal Square, Dublin, and the Civic Plaza, Dundrum Town Centre.”

Whether the completed Point Square meets that requirement is central to the dispute.

Dunnes contends that PVDL has failed, refused, or neglected to ensure that Point Square is completed to the standard required by the development agreement, and it is asking the court to determine the issue.

PVDL says the square has been finished for several years and Dunnes was claiming that two years since it first raised the issue, the work was not “sufficiently aesthetically pleasing”. PVDL says Dunnes has not suffered any loss or damage as a result.

The proceedings are in the context of a long-running dispute between the receivers of PVDL and the retailer about the opening of a Dunnes anchor store in the development.

The completion of Point Square is to be a milestone in relation to a previous settlement between the parties, whereby €3 million will be released to PVDL from a joint escrow account.

An application by PVDL to bring contempt proceedings against Dunnes for the alleged noncompliance with previous court orders requiring it to carry out a fit-out of the anchor store is to be heard by the Commercial Court in July.

Martin Hayden SC for Dunnes said his client does “not have to open any store” until the work is completed to standard, regardless of whether the store is fitted out.

John Lavelle for PVDL opposed the entry of the case to the commercial list saying there was no commercial urgency and because of delay by Dunnes in bringing proceedings. Lavelle said this was in the context of litigation spanning 13 years, with the Point Square issue dating back nine years and Dunnes being in breach of its obligations to fit out the anchor store since 2016.

Despite final court orders on the fit-out matter, the retailer has still not taken any steps in that direction and its counsel had made it clear it has no intention of trading even if it fits out the store. It says it is entitled to immediately close the new store if it wants, he said.

Justice Denis McDonald said it was in everyone’s interests that the matter of whether the dispute should be sent for expert determination should be resolved as soon as possible. He added that it was “really a very unhappy picture” where there had been so much litigation between two commercial entities in relation to a development of this kind.

 

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