Dispute resumes over loans linked to Dublin Docks land deal

The High Court has heard that the settlement of a dispute in the High Court between developer Pat Ryan and a finance fund over loans for a commercial property site in Dublin City’s South Docks has failed.

The dispute, which relates to a loan of more than 12 million euros advanced to Mr Ryan and his partners who were all involved in partnerships known as the City Arts Partnership and City Partnership to buy property on City Quay , Moss Street and Gloucester Street Dublin 2 , will resume in court at a later date.

Ruling on a preliminary issue before the resumption of proceedings, Judge Michael Twomey said he was ready to issue orders that Mr Ryan be given two categories of documents he was seeking.

However, he was not entitled to the discovery of two other categories of documents, the judge concluded.

Mortgages

The loans were advanced by defunct Anglo Irish Bank, before being acquired by financial fund Dengrove Designated Activity Company in 2017.

The judge said the main issue in dispute is whether Mr Ryan is correct in asserting that he is entitled to pay off the mortgage on the property himself for around 22 million euros and therefore the develop, or if the mortgage cannot be repaid when all amounts owing to Dengrove have been paid by Mr. Kelly and his associates.

In his defense to Mr. Ryan’s action, Dengrove asserts that the loans are mortgaged “all amounts owing”. She claims that the outstanding liability of the partnerships in relation to the purchase of the property owed to her is approximately 22 million euros.

The fund also claims that the various partners in the partnerships owe it some 430 million euros in outstanding loans.

A full hearing of the dispute involving the parties in 2019 had stalled after the court heard that an agreement had been reached, the judge noted.

That settlement agreement has collapsed and the trial must resume, he said.

Discovery of the material

Before the case restarted, Mr. Ryan had amended his claim and filed a request for production of documents with the defendant, which he says is relevant to his claim.

Judge Twomey said that although the entire dispute will be decided later, Mr Ryan was ahead of this hearing and was seeking to uncover more documents.

The judge said his claim arose out of certain emails that had come to Mr. Ryan’s attention and were allegedly sent by Dengrove and his agents, and some of the plaintiff’s partners.

The emails are alleged to have dealt with the interest payable on the loans to Dengrove and the tax implications for those partners.

Mr Ryan says Dengrove made a deal with its then partners to inflate debt on the sites, while seeking to avoid tax by changing the interest rates on said loans.

Dengrove denies these claims and said the discovery claims should be dismissed on the grounds that they were an attempt to substantiate bare claims, were overbroad and mere speculation.

The application added by the fund was equivalent to a fishing expedition.

The production had been ordered at an early stage of the proceedings and any new production order would violate the rights of third parties, who are not involved in the action.

compromise agreement

In his judgment, the judge said he was prepared to issue orders directing the defendant to provide Mr. Ryan with records and documents relating to any compromise agreement between Dengrove and Mr. Ryan’s co-partners.

He further ordered that Mr. Ryan be provided with documents or records relating to any changes or proposed changes to interest rates that have been charged or guaranteed on City Quay properties.

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The judge said these categories may be relevant to the proceedings.

He was unwilling to issue orders over documents showing that an amount of 430 million euros is guaranteed on the properties subject to the procedure.

The judge added that he was also unwilling to order the discovery of any documents or evidence relating to communications between the partners and Dengrove regarding the 430 million euro debt which the defendants claim is secured on the properties.

These were refused on the grounds that the discovery of this material would violate confidentiality agreements with other people and appeared to be a general trawl of communications between the parties.

Garland K. Long