A GLOBAL construction giant who were responsible for the construction management of the Corrib Gas Project terminal at Bellanaboy was accused of ‘extreme arrogance’ and employing ‘bully-boy’ tactics when dealing with an Erris-based catering contractor.
The comments were made by High Court President Justice Nicholas Kearns in relation to a judgement in a security for costs hearing in the High Court last week involving the Corrib Gas project management company PM Group and Teach Iorrais Teo.
Teach Iorrais, which was based in Geesala, was a catering contractor on the Shell terminal site for a period of 20 months, from October 2007 until February 2009. During that time, it provided a service for up to 900 people on a twice-daily basis.
In August, Teach Iorrais Teo was placed into voluntary liquidation, and Mr Justice Kearns said that PM Group had contributed to the financial difficulties.
The security-for-costs case was heard over four days in the High Court, and in his judgement Mr Justice Kearns said he was satisfied that PM had interfered in the contract and as a result Teach Iorrais had to resign from it. He said he was satisfied that security for costs should not be granted in this case.
He said that PM was aware that Teach Iorrais went into voluntary liquidation and therefore knew it were insolvent, but instead of bringing a security-for-costs application at that point, had entered into a long, drawn-out and cumbersome particulars process.
Justice Kearns pointed out that not too much reliance was placed on the open offer made by PM, as it is normal for a commercial entity to attempt to settle a dispute as cheaply and efficiently as possible. However, in his view, a three-hour deadline amounted to nothing but ‘bully-boy’ tactics. PM was using its muscle to try to get rid of this case, he said.
The court suggested that this was a suitable case for mediation, but Justice Kearns noted that the defendant spent a matter of seconds considering the offer of mediation made by him. The offer of mediation was simply batted away and was indicative of the thought process in the whole case, he said. He added that the rules were clear that mediation or Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) where suitable should be used.
A further finding of fact, according to Justice Kearns, was that PM had contributed to the financial difficulties experienced by Teach Iorrais Teoranta. He was happy that forbearance had been granted by creditors and that the company may have traded out of its financial difficulties.
Justice Kearns indicated that he was not happy with the statement by PM Group that even if this case was won that any award would be of no use to the company. He said that there had been extreme arrogance demonstrated at all times by PM.
He adjourned the case for three months and requested that parties consider the use of the ADR process. He made an order for the costs of the security-for-costs application to be awarded in favour of Teach Iorrais Teo, but he put a stay on that order and ordered that an ADR process commence in the meantime.