Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources v Figary Water Sports Development Company Ltd

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeMs. Justice Laffoy
Judgment Date30 July 2015
Neutral Citation[2015] IESC 74
CourtSupreme Court
Docket Number[Appeal No. 290/2012]
Date30 July 2015
Between
The Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources
Appellant
and
Figary Water Sports Development Company Limited
Respondent

[2015] IESC 74

[Appeal No. 290/2012]

THE SUPREME COURT

Landlord and tenant – Foreshore lease – Possession – Appellant seeking order for possession – Whether appellant was in breach of statutory duty

Facts: The appellant, the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, was plaintiff and the respondent, Figary Water Sports Development Company Ltd, was defendant in High Court proceedings commenced by plenary summons issued in October, 2005. The objective of the proceedings was to enforce Figary"s obligations as lessee under a foreshore lease granted by the Minister, as lessor, in exercise of the power vested in him by s. 2 of the Foreshore Act 1933 or, alternatively, to obtain possession of the foreshore the subject of that lease. In its defence and counterclaim delivered in April, 2006, Figary opposed the claims of the Minister either to enforce the lease against Figary or, alternatively seeking possession. In addition, Figary counterclaimed for injunctive relief to compel the Minister to remedy what it alleged were breaches by the Minister of his obligations qua lessor to Figary, damages for alleged breach of covenant and breach of contract and misrepresentation by the Minister, and damages for alleged breach of statutory duty. The bases of the claim by the Minister against Figary and of the counterclaim of Figary against the Minister were founded on the landlord and tenant relationship between the Minister and Figary arising from the foreshore lease and the respective rights and obligations of the parties under a grant application made by Figary for funding under the European Structural Funds 2000 – 2006, in particular, under Interreg IIIA Programme for Ireland and Northern Ireland 2000 – 2006 in aid of a project which involved the development by way of expansion of a marina on the foreshore the subject of the foreshore lease at Fahan, County Donegal, in respect of which the Minister"s Department had the role of implementing agent under a complex scheme structure for the regulation and administration of the Interreg IIIA Programme. The matter having been heard in the High Court before McKechnie J, judgment, primarily on issues of liability, was delivered in September, 2010. Subsequently, in January, 2012, McKechnie J delivered a further judgment in which he determined the remaining issues as to the reliefs to which the Minister was entitled on the claim and Figary was entitled on the counterclaim. That resulted in an order of the Court, perfected in June, 2012, which ordered, in relation to the Minister"s claim, for enforcement of Figary"s obligations under the foreshore lease, that the Minister was entitled to judgment in the sum of €226,847.77 against Figary, and for possession, that Figary was entitled to relief against forfeiture of the foreshore lease subject to terms and conditions imposed on Figary. In relation to Figary"s counterclaim for damages, it was ordered that Figary was entitled to judgment in the sum of €2,045,000 against the Minister, representing damages for breach of statutory duty in relation to the grant application, and in relation to costs, it was ordered that Figary pay the Minister"s costs of the claim measured at 4 days of hearing, and that the Minister pay Figary"s costs of the counterclaim. The Minister appealed to the Supreme Court in June, 2012 against some parts of the judgments and the order of the High Court. Specifically, the Minister appealed against the dismissal of the Minister"s claim for possession as against Figary and sought in lieu thereof an order for possession against Figary, appealed against the granting of judgment to Figary on its counterclaim in the sum of €2,045,000 and sought instead an order dismissing the counterclaim, and appealed against the award of four day"s costs of the proceedings in the High Court as against the Minister and sought instead an order awarding all costs to the Minister.

Held by Laffoy J that, having considered the Minister"s claim for possession of the Marina demised by the Foreshore Lease, the Minister was not entitled to an order for possession on the basis that the Foreshore Lease had been forfeited for breach of covenant by Figary. Laffoy J held that the Minister had prima facie established an entitlement to an order for possession under s. 52 of the Landlord and Tenant Amendment Act, Ireland, 1860, but, subject to compliance by Figary with the conditions stipulated, no order for possession should issue or be executed, the conditions being that Figary discharge and pay to the Minister within a time period to be stipulated in the order of the Court all arrears of rent, including rent which is statute-barred, due by Figary to the Minister, interest on the arrears of rent which are not statute-barred at the statutory court rate from the respective dates on which the same became due, and the costs of the Minister related to the claim for possession under s. 52, the basis of quantification to be stipulated in the order of the Court following further submissions from the parties. As regards Figary"s counterclaim for damages for breach of statutory duty, Laffoy J held that Figary had established that the Minister was in breach of statutory duty, being a breach of the rule of European Union law, in preventing the processing of Figary"s claim for grant funding under the Interreg IIIA Programme to a final decision. In consequence, Laffoy J held that Figary was entitled to be awarded damages for the loss it has incurred consequential on such breach. The said damages were quantified at €450,000.

Laffoy J held that the appeal should be allowed and the High Court order varied.

Appeal allowed.

Judgment of Ms. Justice Laffoy delivered on 30th day of July, 2015
A — Introduction
Background to appeal
1

The High Court proceedings which are the subject of this appeal, in which the appellant (the Minister) was plaintiff and the respondent (Figary) was defendant, were commenced by plenary summons which issued on 10th October, 2005. As initiated, the objective of the proceedings was to enforce Figary's obligations as lessee under a foreshore lease granted by the Minister, as lessor, in exercise of the power vested in him by s. 2 of the Foreshore Act 1933 (the Act of 1933) or, alternatively, to obtain possession of the foreshore the subject of that lease. In its defence and counterclaim delivered on 26th April, 2006 in the High Court proceedings, Figary opposed the claims of the Minister either to enforce the lease against Figary or, alternatively seeking possession. In addition, Figary counterclaimed for –

(a) injunctive relief to compel the Minister to remedy what it alleged were breaches by the Minister of his obligations qua lessor to Figary;

(b) damages for alleged breach of covenant and breach of contract and misrepresentation by the Minister; and

(c) damages for alleged breach of statutory duty.

2

In essence, the bases of the claim by the Minister against Figary and of the counterclaim of Figary against the Minister were founded on the following:

(a) the landlord and tenant relationship between the Minister and Figary arising from the foreshore lease; and

(b) the respective rights and obligations of the parties under a grant application made by Figary for funding under the European Structural Funds 2000 – 2006, in particular, under Interreg IIIA Programme for Ireland and Northern Ireland 2000 – 2006 (the Interreg IIIA Programme) in aid of a project which involved the development by way of expansion of a marina on the foreshore the subject of the foreshore lease at Fahan, County Donegal (the Marina), in respect of which the Minister's Department had the role of implementing agent under a very complex scheme structure for the regulation and administration of the Interreg IIIA Programme.

3

The matter having been heard in the High Court before McKechnie J. over sixteen days, judgment, primarily on issues of liability, was delivered on 3rd September, 2010 ( [2010] IEHC 541) (the First Judgment). Subsequently, on 19th January, 2012, McKechnie J. delivered a further judgment ( [2012] IEHC 601) (the Second Judgment) in which he determined the remaining issues as to the reliefs to which the Minister was entitled on the claim and Figary was entitled on the counterclaim. That resulted in an order of the Court dated 27th January, 2012, which was perfected on 12th June, 2012. In summary, the perfected order, the detail of which will be considered later, ordered as follows:

(a) in relation to the Minister's claim –

(i) for enforcement of Figary's obligations under the foreshore lease, that the Minister is entitled to judgment in the sum of €226,847.77 against Figary, and

(ii) for possession, that Figary is entitled to relief against forfeiture of the foreshore lease subject to terms and conditions imposed on Figary;

(b) in relation to Figary's counterclaim for damages, that Figary is entitled to judgment in the sum of €2,045,000 against the Minister, representing damages for breach of statutory duty in relation to the grant application; and

(c) in relation to costs –

(i) that Figary pay the Minister's costs of the claim measured at 4 days of hearing, and

(ii) that the Minister pay Figary's costs of the counterclaim.

4

Notice of appeal was filed on behalf of the Minister on 25th June, 2012 against some parts only of the judgments and the order of the High Court. Specifically, the Minister –

(a) appealed against the dismissal of the Minister's claim for possession as against Figary and sought in lieu thereof an order for possession against Figary,

(b) appealed against the granting of judgment to Figary on its counterclaim in the sum of €2,045,000 and sought instead an order dismissing the...

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1 cases
  • Cromane Seafoods Ltd v Minister for Agriculture
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 22 Febrero 2016
    ...of this Court (Laffoy J.) in Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources v. Figary Water Sports Development Company Ltd. [2015] I.E.S.C. 74. One aspect of that case involved a claim that the State was liable for the way in which it had administered a claim for a grant. Obvious......

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