Supreme Court rules in favour of course after long-running case
Leopardstown chief executive Pat Keogh expressed his delight after Ireland's Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Templeville Developments was not entitled to rescind a mediation agreement intended to have settled a long-running, costly row with the owners of Leopardstown racecourse.
Keogh said: "We're very pleased the original judgement from the High Court stands. It's been a long process and we're happy to get to the end of the road. We had prepared very well throughout all the proceedings and put an awful lot of work into it. It was a team effort.
"Now that it's over, it will allow us to concentrate on other things and we have plenty to look forward to in coming months with our Bulmers Live evening, Irish Champions Weekend and our big new jumps weekend next January."
Leopardstown Club Limited appealed to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal overturned a High Court decision rejecting claims by businessman Phillip Smyth and Templeville Developments Ltd, which operates the Westwood sports club at Leopardstown, that they were entitled to rescind the mediation agreement on grounds of alleged misrepresentation.
Templeville and Smyth alleged Leopardstown misrepresented a site running through seven new tennis courts was not materially affected by an underground Electricity Supply Board (ESB) cable.
Leopardstown denied misrepresentation, alleged Smyth had deliberately "stacked up" grievances to breach the mediated settlement, and argued Templeville and Smyth were aware of two underground ESB cables for years.
Leopardstown’s counsel, Michael McDowell SC, argued there was "a great big manhole" in the middle of the relevant site marked with “ESB”, plus two other marked manholes.
The High Court had found it was "impossible" not to be satisfied Templeville had knowledge of the transverse ESB cable and that Smyth’s claim of no knowledge of that cable was not believable.
In its 2015 judgements granting an appeal by Templeville and Smyth over the High Court findings, the Court of Appeal found the High Court conclusion the appellants had knowledge in 2007/08 of two ESB cables was not supported by the evidence.
Leopardstown appealed to the Supreme Court and five judges on Tuesday unanimously ruled in the course's favour after finding the Court of Appeal exceeded its jurisdiction. Because there was evidence to support the High Court findings the claim of mispresentation must fail, the court ruled.
It also made "unless" costs orders, meaning Templeville and Smyth must pay the substantial legal costs of the case unless they indicate by next Tuesday a basis for opposing such costs. If they do, the court will decide costs issues later.
The core issue in the appeal was whether the Court of Appeal exceeded its jurisdiction and misapplied a rule under which appellant courts are bound by a trial judge’s findings of fact if those findings are supported by credible evidence.
Giving the court’s principal judgement, the Chief Justice, Ms Justice Susan Denham, found the appeal court had misapplied the relevant rule. Because there was evidence to support the High Court’s finding certain evidence given by Smyth was not credible, that finding could not be set aside by the Court of Appeal, she held.