Dublin Corporation v Building and Allied Trade Union

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeKeane J.
Judgment Date24 July 1996
Neutral Citation1996 WJSC-SC 3245
CourtSupreme Court
Docket Number[S.C. No. 112
Date24 July 1996

1996 WJSC-SC 3245

THE SUPREME COURT

Hamilton C.J.

O'Flaherty J.

Blayney J.

Barrington J.

Keane J.

112/96
DUBLIN CORPORATION v. BUILDING & ALLIED TRADE UNION

BETWEEN:

THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE LORD MAYOR ALDERMEN AND BURGESSES OF THE CITY OF DUBLIN
Plaintiffs/Respondents

AND

BUILDING AND ALLIED TRADE UNION AND ITS TRUSTEES JAMES FOLEY, FREDERICK HOSFORD, DERMOT GRAY, JAMES LYONS AND LAURENCE O'BRIEN
Defendants/Appellants

Citations:

PHILLIPS V HUNTER 1795 2 HBL 402

MOSES V MACFERLAN 1760 2 BURR 1005

GOFF & JONES LAW OF RESTITUTION 4ED

EAST CORK FOODS LTD V O'DWYER STEEL CO 1978 IR 103

Synopsis:

ARBITRATION

Award

Finality - Landowner - Building - Acquisition - Compulsion - Compensation paid by road authority - Portion of building acquired - Compensation calculated on basis of owner reinstating facade on rebuilt remainder of building - Reinstatement not effected - Alleged unjust enrichment of defendant owner - Plain tiff road authority claimed repayment of amount by which defendant unjustly enriched - Whether constructive trust of excess compensation - Arbitrator's award equivalent to final judgment to same effect - Principles of unjust enrichment, if applicable, must yield to estoppel by ~res judicata~ - Plaintiff's claim dismissed on appeal on basis of ~res judicata~ - Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919 (9 & 10 Geo. 5, c. 57), ss. 2, 6 - Arbitration Act, 1954 (No. 26), ss. 27, 41 - (112/96 - Supreme Court - 24/7/96) [1996] 1 IR 468 - [1996] 2 ILRM 547

|Corporation of Dublin v. Building and Allied Trade Union|

EQUITY

Relief

Defendant - Enrichment - Injustice - Plaintiff - Restitution - Entitlement - Compulsory acquisition of defendant's land - Compensation paid to defendant - Alleged unjust enrichment of defendant - Plaintiff road authority claimed repayment of amount by which defendant unjustly enriched - Compensation determined by award of arbitrator - Arbitrator's award equivalent to final judgment to same effect - Principles of unjust enrichment, if applicable, must yield to estoppel by ~res judicata~ - (112/96 - Supreme Court - 24/7/96) - [1996] 1 IR 468 - [1996] 2 ILRM 547

|Corporation of Dublin v. Building and Allied Trade Union|

EVIDENCE

Estoppel G7§G7

~Res judicata~ - Land - Acquisition - Compulsion - Compensation - Compensation paid by road authority - Portion of building acquired - Compensation calculated on basis of owner reinstating facade on rebuilt remainder of building - Reinstatement not effected - Alleged unjust enrichment of defendant owner - Plain tiff road authority claimed repayment of amount by which defendant unjustly enriched - Whether constructive trust of excess compensation - Arbitrator's award equivalent to final judgment to same effect - Principles of unjust enrichment, if applicable, must yield to estoppel by ~res judicata~ - Plaintiff's claim dismissed on appeal on basis of ~res judicata~ - (112/96 - Supreme Court - 24/7/96) - [1996] 1 IR 468 - [1996] 2 ILRM 547

|Corporation of Dublin v. Building and Allied Trade Union|

WORDS AND PHRASES

"Unjust enrichment"

Landowner - Building - Acquisition - Compulsion - Compensation paid by road authority - Portion of building acquired - Compensation calculated on basis of owner reinstating facade on rebuilt remainder of building - Reinstatement not effected - Alleged unjust enrichment of defendant owner - Plaintiff road authority claimed repayment of amount by which defendant unjustly enriched - Whether constructive trust of excess compensation - Arbitrator's award equivalent to final judgment to same effect - Principles of unjust enrichment, if applicable, must yield to estoppel by ~res judicata~ - Plaintiff's claim dismissed on appeal on basis of ~res judicata~ - (112/96 - Supreme Court - 24/7/96)

|Corporation of Dublin v. Building and Allied Trade Union|

1

JUDGMENT delivered the 24th day of July, 1996 by Keane J. [NEM DISS]

2

In 1982 the Plaintiffs/Respondents (whom I shall refer to as "the Corporation") acting in its capacity as road authority decided to widen Cuffe Street. To that end, they made a compulsory purchase order which was duly confirmed by the Minister for the Environment on the 2nd September 1983. One of the properties affected by the order was a building known as the Bricklayers" Hall which was owned by the Defendants/Appellants (whom I shall refer to as "the Union") who were then described as "the Ancient Guild of Incorporated Brick and Stonelayers". The front facade of the building was, appropriately enough, a fine example of the stonemasons" and bricklayers" craft.

3

At an arbitration conducted by Mr. Sean M. McDermot, the duly nominated property arbitrator, to determine the amount of compensation to be paid to the Union, its secretary, Mr. Kevin Duffy, gave evidence on oath that:

4

(a) the Bricklayers" Hall was an integral part of the Union's activity,

5

(b) the Union was unlikely to be in a position to rent similar premises with the same facilities, and

6

(c) it was the intention of the Union to rebuild the Bricklayers" Hall and to reinstate the facade.

7

Two alternative bases for the assessment of the compensation to be paid to the Union were presented to the arbitrator. The first was on the basis that the Corporation acquired the entire building, and not merely the front portion required for road widening, and sold or similarly disposed of the remainder to recoup their expenditure. The second was on the basis that the Corporation only acquired so much of the property as was needed for road widening, thereby enabling the Union to reinstate the building, complete with facade, on the reduced site.

8

Prior to the arbitration the Corporation and the Union, acting through their professional advisers, sensibly agreed the sums that would be payable, depending on which basis the compensation was to be assessed. Under the first method, it was £87,857. Under the second, it was £224,414. The arbitrator, having heard the evidence, issued his award on the 27th May, 1995, and awarded the Union the latter sum, together with the costs and expenses of preparing and submitting its claim and the costs and expenses of and incidental to the reference to arbitration. By a conveyance of 30th December 1985, the portion of the site the subject of the compulsory purchase order was conveyed to the Corporation by the Union in consideration of the sum of £224,414 paid to the Union.

9

Following the award and prior to that conveyance, most of the Bricklayers" Hall was demolished by the Union and since then no attempt has been made to rebuild the buildings, including the facade, on the site which they retained.

10

The Corporation thereupon instituted the present proceedings, in which they claim:

11

(a) a declaration that the Union holds the sum of £224,414 in trust for the reconstruction of the Bricklayers" Hall and the reinstatement of the front facade;

12

(b) a mandatory injunction requiring the Union to apply the money in the reconstruction of the Bricklayers" Hall and the reinstatement of the facade;

13

(c) payment by the Union to the Corporation of the sum of £136,557 (the difference between the two agreed sums) together with appropriate interest, as being an amount by which the Union has been allegedly unjustly enriched.

14

The relief sought in paragraph (c) was obviously sought as an alternative to the reliefs claimed in the preceding paragraphs to provide for the contingency that the Union might have put it out of their power to reinstate the building by disposing of the cleared site.

15

A defence was delivered on behalf of the Union in which it was pleaded that the statement of claim disclosed no cause of action and that the Corporation were in any event estopped by the doctrine of res judicata from making the claim. They also denied that the Union was under any duty to the Corporation to reconstruct the Bricklayers" Hall or reinstate the facade, that the sum of £220,414 was held by them on any trust for the Corporation or otherwise and that they had been unjustly enriched.

16

The case was at hearing in the High Court for eight days. Most of the hearing, was, however, taken up by legal submissions; the facts, as already summarised in this judgment, were not in dispute. Evidence was given on behalf of the Corporation by Mr. John Faley, a valuer, Mr. Eugene Farrelly, a quantity surveyor, Mr. Charles Clancy, an architect and Mr. Michael Reynolds, an architect and town planner. No evidence was given on behalf of the Union.

17

In a lengthy judgment, Budd J, concluded that the claim of the Corporation was well founded and that they were entitled to be paid the sum of £158,957 by the Union. From that judgment, the Union have now appealed to this court.

18

On behalf of the Union, Mr. Patrick Keane, S.C. submitted that the proceedings were an undisguised attack on the finality of the award in the arbitration proceedings. He said that the High Court had been invited, in effect, to consider the award of the property arbitrator in the light of changed circumstances and reassess the compensation which he had awarded. He further submitted that the Union were under no legal obligation to reinstate the building and there was no evidence to support the case made, implicitly if not expressly, on behalf of the Corporation that they had in some sense acted in bad faith. There was no allegation that the award of the arbitrator had been procured by fraud and, in those circumstances, the Union were entitled as a matter of law to the sums paid to them on foot of the award.

19

Mr. Keane further submitted that there was no evidence of any representation by the Union to the Corporation or any commitment on their behalf that the building would be reinstated. The agreement entered into between the professional advisers to the Corporation and to the Union as to the cost of reinstatement was no more than that;...

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