Wednesday, July 20, 2022

High Court reporters

Members of the Co Kerry Coursing Club claim they have been “wrongfully” and “aggressively” locked out of grounds that have been used for hare coursing for well over 100 years.

The court heard the club was locked out of Ballybeggan Park, the site of the former Tralee Racecourse, since June 18th last when new locks were put on the gates of the facility.

It claims that it has been locked out by Ballybeggan Park Company Limited, the entity that owns and operates the lands.

The club, represented by David Sutton SC, Elizabeth Murphy Bl instructed by O’Donoghue-Griffin solicitors, has claimed before the court that the lock out has occurred despite the fact it is the largest shareholder in the defendant company.

‘Sporting rights’

The club claims the defendant has no right to prevent it from denying the members their sporting rights. It also believes that the lockout is related to the company’s purported decision to sell the lands for €5 million.

The club says it needs to be allowed back into the park as it usually starts works in June and July to prepare the grounds for the start of the coursing season in September.

It is also due to take a delivery of feed for the hares to be stored at the park, which it currently cannot do.

It seeks orders including an injunction restraining the company from obstructing or interfering with the club’s pursuit of its coursing activity.

It also seeks an order requiring the defendant to facilitate the club with access to the lands at Ballybeggan Park for the purposes of coursing activities.

It further seeks an order preventing the defendant company from taking any further steps in relation to the lands that are adverse to the club’s interests.

Grounds sold

The club claims that last May an article appeared in a local newspaper stating the grounds had been sold. This came as a surprise to the club.

It claims that the company confirmed that it intends to sell the grounds for €5 million, even though the club claims that the shareholders have not approved the proposal.

The club also believes that the value of the proposed sale is a gross undervalue.

In addition, the club claims that company made no proposals as to how hare coursing is to be accommodated the rights of the coursing club.

The club says it does not generally object to lands being sold and is prepared to take a pragmatic view, but wants its activities cater for.

A deal, which ultimately fell through for the sale of the lands for €47 million had been agreed in 2007.

As part of that proposal alternative lands in Co Kerry were to be provided to the coursing club.

The club claims that arising out of the purported sale no plan to accommodate its activities has put to it.

Previous difficulties

The club said that there have previously been difficulties between the club and the company. In 2019, it was also allegedly locked out of the Park.

The club instructed lawyers to sue the company due to the firms alleged oppressive actions.

However, that dispute was settled before it came to court and the club members were given access to the lands

The matter was mentioned before Mr Justice Brian O’Moore on Wednesday.

The judge, on an ex-parte basis, granted the applicants’ permission to serve short notice of the injunction proceedings on the defendants.

The matter will return before the court later his month.

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