Doherty’s Harcourt settles UK legal spat – Ireland

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High Court proceedings aimed at preventing a UK firm from seeking to have the Irish-based Harcourt Developments wound up over a disputed debt of £2m (€2.27m) have been settled.

Harcourt, which says it is not insolvent and employs more than 800 people, brought an action against Surrey-based Crest Nicholson (South West) Limited which it alleged was “improperly” threatening to have Harcourt wound up.

Harcourt, built by well-known developer Pat Doherty, claimed Crest Nicholson had “an ulterior motive” in seeking to have it put into liquidation.

Harcourt argued that the petition was an attempt to force it to sell development lands in England at a significant undervalue to Crest.

The parties had previously entered into an agreement to develop the lands near Bristol into housing.

As a result of the dispute, Harcourt Developments Unlimited Company sought an injunction restraining Crest from bringing or advertising any petition to wind up the Irish firm.

It also sought declarations that any dispute arising from the settlement agreement should be heard before an English & Welsh court.

Harcourt previously obtained permissions to serve short notice of the proceedings against Crest.

The matter was adjourned from time to time to allow discussions to take place. Yesterday, Rudi Neuman BL, for Harcourt, told Mr Justice Tony O’Connor that the matter had been settled and on the consent of both parties the entire proceedings could be struck out with no order.

No details of the settlement were given in open court.

Last May Harcourt’s counsel, Martin Hayden SC, appearing with Rudi Neuman BL, said the dispute had arisen between the two parties over a previous settlement agreement.

That came out of a dispute over a Joint Landowners Agreement (JLA) in respect of plans to develop the lands.

Harcourt entered into a JLA in 2006 with two entities, one of which was Crest.

The relationship between Crest and the other parties broke down in 2015, and Crest sought to terminate the JLA.

The dispute went before an expert for determination.

Harcourt claimed it believed it had resolved matters with Crest to recommence the development in 2017 when the parties entered into a settlement agreement and paid £1.8m to Crest.

Part of the agreement involved payments being made to Crest for costs it had incurred on the development.

It was claimed that Crest failed to provide Harcourt with vital information it requires to progress the development.

Crest claimed that it would only provide the information after it was paid money allegedly owed to it by Harcourt.

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