One of Bohola man Bill Durkan’s companies has won a court action against the Irish state and will receive over €32 million in damages after the state failed to honour an agreement.
Dublin-based Durkan New Homes (DNH) is part of the UK-based Durkan Group whose Chairman and founder is former Mayo Man of the Year, Bohola man Bill Durkan.
DNH took an action against the state over its failure to honour an agreement under which the company was to be given Harcourt Terrace Garda Station in Dublin and an adjoining building, formerly the offices of the film censor.
Durkan New Homes (DNH) claimed the agreement required it to be given the properties in return for building 215 affordable houses for first time buyers during the economic boom.
The company sued the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government in the Commercial Court over failure to go through with this ‘swap’.
In his judgment, Mr Justice Charleton found the contract between the parties had been broken by the State defendants and Durkan New Homes was entitled to be paid the full €31.2 million purchase price agreed for the site.
In addition €967,000 had also been agreed between the parties as special damages.
DNH said they completed their side of the deal by building 215 affordable homes at a number of sites in Dublin, and selling them at a 30 per cent discount of the market value for around €35.4 million.
The Minister argued DNH was not entitled to any damages because the contract provided for a penalty clause if the premises was not vacated. If the company was entitled to damages, those should be assessed at the market value of the garda station site, he argued.
That value in June 2006 was €17.7 million but in November last year was just €3 million, it argued.
In his ruling, Mr Justice Charleton accepted DNH’s claim was validly brought and the company was entitled to the return of the purchase money paid for the site, which was the full amount.
The judge also said he accepted evidence from Neil Durkan that he and his company ‘had never led anyone up the garden path’.