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US President Donald Trump in Doonbeg

Trump may face ‘battle royale’ over right-of-way

DONALD Trump’s company, TIGL Ireland Enterprises Limited, could end up before the circuit court in Clare for “a fully-fledged battle royale” civil case, if progress is not reached over a right-of-way at Doonbeg Golf Club.
The American business tycoon purchased Doonbeg Golf Club and its lands earlier this year, for a reputed €15million, but it has emerged that a negotiated settlement with the previous owners, prior to the sale, provides for a right-of-way on these lands. This settlement was not implemented by the previous owners, Doonbeg Golf Club Ltd, and legal proceedings have been issued against them as a result.
Ennis Circuit Court heard on Tuesday that the settlement reached in May 2013, providing a right-of-way on lands now owned by Mr Trump, was never signed or implemented by the then owners, Doonbeg Golf Club Ltd, prior to the sale.
James McNulty of Ballinagun, Cree, one of the parties to the settlement, has taken a civil action against Doonbeg Golf Club Ltd, now in liquidation, and also a director in the company, James Menton of The Gables, Oaklands Drive, Rathgar, Dublin 6, seeking that the terms of this agreement be implemented.
Following the sale of the lands and the appointment of a liquidator to the now defunct Doonbeg Golf Club Ltd, it appears the court’s order providing for a right-of-way remains in limbo. The court referred to this as “grossly unfair” on Mr McNulty.
According to documents filed with the court, the settlement was agreed on May 31, 2013, whereby James McNulty was granted a right-of-way in respect of access to Doughmore Beach, via lands previously owned by the golf club.
On Tuesday, Judge Gerald Keys heard arguments from Sarah Belshaw BL, counsel for plaintiff James McNulty, and parties to the suit, Ciarán Carroll BL, counsel for Tom Kavanagh Fennell, the liquidator appointed to Doonbeg Golf Club Ltd and also Michael Collins BL, counsel for James Menton, one of two company directors of Doonbeg Golf Club Ltd.
From the representations made, it became clear to the court that as the lands are now in the ownership of TIGL (Trump International Golf Links) Ireland Enterprises Limited, the details of the settlement could not be fully implemented.
But as TIGL Ireland Enterprises Limited is not a party to the suit or to the original settlement, Judge Keys was at a loss as to what remedy he could impose to resolve the matter.
Mr Carroll said his client was the liquidator and had no role or authority to implement any settlements and his only avenue to intervene would be if the receiver sold the property under value, which did not happen.
The receivers are also not before the court in this matter, as their function has been completed with the sale of the golf club. The liquidator is now in control of the company, he added.
Mr Caroll explained that, according to case law, he could not compel the receivers to provide any correspondence or documents pertaining to the company during their tenure, something he described as an “anomaly in company law”.
Similarly, Mr Collins argued his client was a director of the company since November 2013 and has no involvement in the running of the company since appointing receivers on January 13, 2014.
It was explained to the court by Mr Collins that the only person who can execute the terms of the settlement is TIGL Ireland Enterprises Limited, who owns the land. He suggested that adding them to the proceedings would help resolve matters.
Concern was expressed by Judge Keys as to whether TIGL Ireland Enterprises Limited knew of this settlement arrangement, prior to purchasing Doonbeg Golf Club.
He said once a receiver takes over all assets of a company, legal commitments arise to carry out enquiries about the property and he said he was not sure what was done in this regard. He added, “The receivers have some explaining to do.”
He stated he did not know if TIGL were told about this litigation and suggested that if they had known, perhaps they may not have purchased the property.
However, counsel for the liquidator confirmed that TIGL Ireland Enterprises Limited were informed of the litigation.In an affidavit by the plaintiff’s solicitor Orla Clarke, filed with the court, she outlined that on May 22, 2014 correspondence was received from solicitors for TIGL Ireland Enterprises Limited. This letter, she stated, acknowledged “the unsigned terms of settlement between the parties. It further represents that a draft deed may be submitted for their consideration”.
Judge Keys asked all parties present to jointly draft a letter advising Mr Trump’s company of the situation and see if the settlement reached between Doonbeg Golf Club Ltd and Mr McNulty would be honoured.
He added, “I don’t like referring to TIGL because they are not a party to this action. Put a letter together saying this is what happened, this is outrageous. If that doesn’t happen and if there is no co-operation with TIGL then I’ll join the parties together”. He added that then “it will come back to the court for a fully fledged battle royale”.
Addressing counsel he added, “The plaintiff has done very little wrong in this. I’ll tell you one thing, the plaintiff will not be held to blame. It is grossly unfair what has happened in this”.
He said it would be his preference that matters be put to rest “without having to go to litigation”.
The issue of costs of these proceedings was also touched upon briefly during the hearing but Judge Keys advised this was not a matter open to discussion at this stage.
“Do not go down the road of the issue of costs. If the receiver or the liquidator failed in their duty in any way and I’m not saying that they did, then they will pay the costs,” he said.
The court was informed that there was no litigation against the receiver in this matter.
He re-iterated that if there was no co-operation with TIGL then he would join all the parties together. He adjourned the case to July 22.

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