High Court to rule on row over refurbishment of Supermac’s store
Posted on 5th June 2019 at 21:24
Judge said the case involved parties ‘seeking to draw first blood’
The High Court will rule on Thursday on a dispute between Supermac’s and the operators of one of its stores over who should pay for the outlet’s refurbishment.
Supermac’s Ireland Limited is seeking an injunction against John and Mary Lyons who have operated a franchise of the fast food restaurant at Ennis Road, Limerick, for many years.
The injunction, sought pending a full hearing, is aimed at preventing the couple carrying out on works on the premises without the consent of Supermac’s.
After submissions ended on Wednesday, Mr Justice Senan Allen said the case involved parties “seeking to draw first blood”.
Both sides were “experienced business people” who “know their business very well”, he said.
While the court was prepared to use the “brutal tools” it has available to it to decide the issue at noon on Thursday, he would hold off making any ruling if the sides came before the court with a solution at 11.59am or earlier, he said.
Earlier, Rossa Fanning SC, for Supermac’s, said the injunction was sought over breach of a clause in the Supermac’s franchise agreement.
His client is both landlord of the Ennis Road premises, as it holds the freehold, and holder of a franchise agreement for the restaurant, he said.
In order to ensure its high standards are maintained, Supermac’s has a policy of carrying out all refurbishment works on its stores, counsel said.
It was accepted refurbishment works are required at Ennis Road but the dispute concerns who carries them out, counsel said.
The Lyons’ intention to carry out such works is a breach of the franchise agreement, he argued.
Mr and Mrs Lyons, who have operated Supermac’s franchises for many years, deny the company’s claims and say they are entitled to carry out the refurbishment works.
Andrew Sexton SC, for the couple, argued the court should not grant the injunction.
The store needs to be refurbished and that equipment, such as the cash registrars, need urgent replacement.
They claim Supermac’s action is “satellite proceedings” arising out of the Circuit Court’s decision in 2018 that Supermac’s boss Pat McDonagh must reimburse over €150,000 in “overpaid” council rates and rent to the couple.
An appeal over the Ennis Road outlet’s tenancy is due to be heard by the High Court in July.
The couple also dispute breach of a franchise agreement purportedly entered into between the parties in 2000.
In a sworn statement, Mr Lyons said he never signed such an agreement and described it as a “forgery”.
In a replying sworn statement, Mr McDonagh said that accusation is “entirely baseless” and should be withdrawn.
The written franchise agreement provided to Mr Lyons by solicitors representing him (Mr McDonagh) was a copy, he said.
He said handwriting experts for both sides have said it was not possible to give a view as to the veracity of the signatures contained on the copy without sight of the original.
Mr Fanning said, after an exhaustive search, the original agreement had been located at the office of a solicitor that previously represented Supermac’s.
Counsel said the document originated at some time in the early 1990s and not 2000.
The original document had been made available in recent days to the defendant’s handwriting expert for examination so Mr McDonagh can be cleared of the “frivolous and vexatious” allegations, counsel said.
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