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High Court to decide TF’s future

Pat Jennings
The future of Pat Jennings’s Castlebar hotels will be decided in the High Court.

High Court to decide if receivers should be in TF

All District Court licensing matters put back until High Court decision on validity of receivers

Edwin McGreal

A number of district court licensing applications for the TF Hotel and Theatre in Castlebar have been adjourned until the High Court deals with an application by the Jennings family against the presence of receivers in the well-known venue.
That was the result of applications before Castlebar District Court on Wednesday last.
The TF Hotel and Theatre and nearby Harlequin Hotel were both placed in receivership last May by Bank of Scotland. However, Pat Jennings, whose family has owned the TF since the 1950s, brought a case to the High Court Commerical Court questioning the validity of the presence of the receiver in the Castlebar hotels.
Diorama Ltd, the company behind both hotels, is seeking to remove the bank-appointed receivers on two grounds. They are arguing that the deed of appointment of the receiver is invalid, and they are also claiming that there was a misappropriation of substantial deposit funds by Bank of Scotland in 2010.
On July 21 Ms Justice Mary Finlay-Geoghegan ruled that there was a case to answer, and Mr Jennings has been granted a hearing in the High Court Commerical Court on the basis of the application.
That matter is due to come before Justice Peter Kelly in the High Court on September 24 next to fix a date for a hearing.

Licensing case adjourned
On Wednesday last, September 5, Judge Mary Devins adjourned the licensing matters which came before her until October 3 for mention. She said she would not rule on any application until the High Court case is finalised.
Barry Donohue, on behalf of receivers KPMG, represented by Rory O’Connor, solicitor, applied for an ad-interim transfer of the name of the nominee on the liquor license for the hotels to his name from the name of Pat Jennings. Mr Donohue also applied for bar exemptions.
However Pat Jennings, represented by Peter Loftus, solicitor, objected to these applications on two grounds. He claimed that the receiver’s presence is invalid; and he also objected to Rory O’Connor working as solicitor for the receiver. Mr O’Connor had been Diorama’s solicitor for many years.
Peter Loftus told the court that Pat Jennings and Diorama Ltd objected to Mr O’Connor’s participation as they felt there was a conflict ‘given his long relationship with Diorama and its directors’.
Mr Loftus added that while Mr O’Connor had carried out work for the receiver since last May with Mr Jennings’s blessing, he had an issue with Mr O’Connor working on this particular application.
Mr O’Connor said that the receiver had been referred in his direction by Mr Jennings. He added: “I do not know what the grounds for the appeal are. I am not abusing my position in any way. I want to make that clear.”
After an adjournment to see if the matter could be resolved, Judge Mary Devins was told it could not be. Mr O’Connor said that his client, the receivers, would have ‘concerns’ if he was to stand down.
Judge Devins said that the receiver’s does not, in her view, need to get an ad-interim transfer as a nominee. She said a nominee on behalf of a company was purely ‘a matter of convenience’ so that Gardaí can be satisfied against who to proceed if there are any issues arising.
However, she said that, fundamentally, she could not ignore the fact that the receiver’s presence in the hotels was being challenged in the High Court Commercial Court, and she said that it would be wrong for any licensing court to make an order pending the High Court decision.
Peter Loftus said that Pat Jennings had no issue with the bar exemptions being granted, as it would be hard for the business to continue without the exemptions. However, Judge Devins adjourned all matters pending the High Court decision.