Friday, February 03, 2023

High Court reporters

Meath County Council has told the High Court that a couple’s last minute legal action aimed at preventing their house from being demolished amounts to “an abuse of process.”

The property, located outside Navan in Co Meath, was built without planning permission by plumber, Michael aka Chris Murray and his wife Rose over 16 years ago.

In 2020, following a lengthy legal battle with Meath Co Council over the property, the couple agreed before the High Court to settle the action.

As part of the settlement agreement, in proceedings where it was alleged, they were in contempt of a court order to demolish their home, they undertook to vacate their family home, and agreed that it should be demolished by September 24th, 2022.

However, shortly before that deadline expired last September the couple’s lawyers secured a temporary High Court injunction against the Council restraining the demolition of the property.

The order was granted, and has been continued from time to time, after their lawyer told the court that new evidence has come to light that may ultimately help the couple retain the house.


When the matter was briefly mentioned before Ms Justice Eileen Roberts at the High Court counsel for Meath Co Council Deirdre Hughes Bl, said that the council was opposing the action and will seeking to have the injunction set aside.

Her client’s view is that the Murray’s latest action amounts to “an abuse of process,” and the council wants the case to be heard and determined by the court as soon as possible.

The Murrays, represented by Barra McCabe Bl. said his clients intend to put new evidence before the courts.

The dispute centred around the purported making of a Section 47 under the 2000 Planning and Development Act in respect of the lands where the house had been built.

Such orders restrict or sterilise any development on lands.

No premission

This agreement had allegedly been agreed between Meath Co Council and the former owners of lands where the Murray’s property had been built, and before they acquired the landholding.

The Murrays accept that they had been “absolutely wrong” to build a house without permission and sought permission to retain their home,

However, their applications had been refused because of the purported existence of the Section  47 order.

They claim that new evidence came to light including information in other legal proceedings brought against An Bord Pleanala over a decision regarding planning permission taken by a relation of the former owners.

The evidence suggests that no Section 47 order had ever been formally entered into in respect of the lands where the Murrays house was built.

Mr McCabe said the related proceedings have been heard by the High Court, and judgement is awaited.

Arising out of the alleged new evidence the Murrays brought a fresh set of proceedings last September, which if successful would result in the 2020 settlement agreement having to be set aside.

Ms Justice Roberts agreed that the matter should be heard within a relatively short period of time and adjourned the case to date later this month.

The judge, who continued the injunction granted last September, said she hoped a date for the hearing to continue the injunction until the full trial of the action can be fixed when the matter is next before the court.

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