Property partnership wants DCU to return €3.7m deposit over failed land deal

Mr Raftery said DCU considers the case to be spurious and "nothing more than an ill-judged attempt" to renegotiate the contract for sale
Property partnership wants DCU to return €3.7m deposit over failed land deal

A partnership is seeking a High Court order directing the return of a €3.7 million deposit it paid as part of a failed deal to buy a 9.6-acre development site from Dublin City University (DCU).

The Atlas Limited Partnership agreed to buy the land at Hampstead, Glasnevin, in December 2019 for €37.6 million.

Atlas paid a deposit of €3.7 million, which was held in the client account of DCU's solicitors pending the completion of the sale, which was not completed and the deposit was forfeited to the university.

Deposit

Atlas has brought proceedings seeking orders including for the return of the deposit and declarations including that DCU was not able and willing to deliver title to the site.

DCU denies the claims and says at all times it was ready, willing and able to sell the land and that Atlas was in breach of the contract for sale by failing to complete the purchase.

Mr Justice Denis McDonald admitted the case to the fast-track Commercial Court, on consent, following an application by DCU. He adjourned the matter to February.

In an affidavit seeking entry of the case to the commercial list, Declan Raftery, chief operations officer of DCU, said the original closing date for the sale was January 23rd, 2020, but it did not complete at that time because DCU attended to additional matters for the purpose of completing the transfer of part of the lands and to clarifying issues raised by Atlas in relation to maps.

Outstanding legal points

By the end of July 2020, Atlas said there were significant legal points which remained outstanding between the parties as well as outstanding mapping queries. Atlas failed however to identify what those issues were, Mr Raftery said.

In August, DCU formally asked Atlas to complete the purchase in 14 days.

In September, Atlas contended DCU was not ready, willing and able to complete the sale because DCU, it said, did not have sufficient title to an area known as the "yellow lands".

Atlas said these were critical to the development potential of the land. Atlas also contended the sale was at an end due to Covid-19.

DCU refuted those claims and asserted Atlas had acknowledged, as part of the conditions of sale, that Atlas had fully investigated the title prior to the sale.

Following further correspondence between the parties, Atlas brought proceedings last September.

Mr Raftery said DCU considers the case to be spurious and "nothing more than an ill-judged attempt" to renegotiate the contract for sale.

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