Legal action by Johnny Ronan holding up sale of €35m land, receivers claim

A legal action by developer John Ronan is frustrating the sale of development lands said to be worth about €35m at Cabinteely, Co Dublin, it has been claimed at the Commercial Court.

The action is against two companies of which John Ronan, otherwise known as Johnny Ronan, formerly was an officer but over whom NAMA appointed receivers in 2012.

On Monday, Mr Justice Robert Haughton agreed to the companies’ application to fast-track the dispute in the Commercial Court.

He was told the lands are for sale. 

Paul Sreenan SC, for the receivers, said the sides had agreed directions for exchange of legal documents which would see the matter adjourned to April 2019 but, prior to that, his side would be applying for orders vacating a lis pendens, a legal claim, registered by Mr Ronan over the lands, counsel said.

The judge fixed that application for hearing next month.

Ross Aylward BL, for Mr Ronan, did not oppose the application to fast-track the case but stressed that was not to be regarded as accepting the sworn statements in the companies’ application to have the case fast-tracked.

Mr Ronan has brought the proceedings against Carlovent Ltd and Benreef Ltd, both with registered offices at Mount Street Crescent, Dublin 2.

Mr Ronan had been an officer of both companies.

In January 2012, NAMA appointed Denis McDonald and William O’Riordan as receivers over those companies.

In his action, Mr Ronan claims he is owner of lands at Lehaunstown Lane, Cabinteely.

Both defendants companies are understood to be the owner of lands bordering his lands and he wants declarations his lands benefit from certain rights of way, he says.

In seeking to have the case fast-tracked, Craig Sowman, of William Fry solicitors, for the defendant companies, said in court documents the companies own six adjoining pieces of land at Cabinteely while Mr Ronan claims he is a legal owner of land abutting those and alleges he has an entitlement to exercise rights of way over the lands.

Mr Sowman said the lands have been advertised for sale but Mr Ronan’s case and the lis pendens have had a detrimental effect on the sale process.

In an affidavit, Mr McDonald said some interested parties had indicated they were, because of the proceedings, no longer interested in buying the lands. There is a commercial urgency in having the matter decided as soon as possible, he said.

Mr Ronan’s side had alleged in correspondence since December 2017 there was a joint venture agreement between him, the two defendant conpanies and other Treasury companies in respect of the development of the lands, he said. There were also claims about rights of way dating back some 20 years.

Mr McDonald said the defendants denied any such alleged joint venture agreement.

In later correspondence, solicitors for Mr Ronan denied suggestions the proceedings and the lis pendens were a tactical attempt to frustrate the sale of the lands. The solicitors also stated a claim regarding a joint venture agreement in respect of the lands is not being advanced by Mr Ronan in his case.

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