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Dunne is rapped for 'wasting' court time

DEVELOPER Sean Dunne has been sharply criticised by the High Court for "wasting" its time following a lengthy hearing where he sued a cleaning company for breach of contract.

The court yesterday awarded damages of €22,518 to a company involving the businessman, after it proved it had been overcharged for cleaning services carried out at a luxury south Dublin apartment complex.

Hollybrook (Brighton Road) Management Company Ltd, sued All First Property Management Company Ltd (in liquidation) and Gina Farrell, trading as Gina Farrell Cleaning Services, alleging fraud, negligence, misrepresentation, conspiracy and breach of confidence.

The case centred on an allegation that Ms Farrell had over-charged for cleaning services between 2003 and 2006, provided duplicate invoices and altered log books to prove that cleaners were working at the Hollywood apartment complex on Brighton Road in Foxrock, Co Dublin, when they were not.

From the outset, Ms Justice Mary Laffoy urged both sides in the action to engage in mediation but Ms Farrell refused.

In a stinging rebuke yesterday, the judge said a lot of what had happened in the 17-day case involved "a waste of the time and the resources of the High Court and the public monies which fund the High Court, for which both sides share responsibility. It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that Mr Dunne had from the start, and continues to have, an ulterior motive for funding these very costly proceedings against Ms Farrell.

The court was told that Ms Farrell had a business relationship with Sean Dunne going back to the 1990s.

A "serious dispute" arose between the parties in 2005. Since then, Ms Farrell had begun three separate legal proceedings, claiming she was owed more than €130,000 by Mr Dunne.

Companies controlled by Mr Dunne have also taken a number of actions against Ms Farrell. None of the legal actions have been finalised.

hnews@herald.ie