Tuesday 25 September 2018

Family left 'destitute' by mum's action in Kilkenny stores dispute, court told

Greg O’Gorman and his mother, Marian, are in dispute
Greg O’Gorman and his mother, Marian, are in dispute

A man and his mother are in a dispute concerning ownership of the Kilkenny group of luxury design retail stores, the Commercial Court has heard.

Greg O'Gorman claims his mother, Marian, the chief executive of the company running the Kilkenny stores, "summarily terminated" his employment as group marketing director last July in a "demeaning and humiliating" manner.

He said this was after 13 years of service and "no suggestion of misconduct or non-performance on my part".

This left him, his wife and three children "financially destitute" and he has been unable to find alternative employment, he added.

Despite promises over the years of a share transfer for his work, Mr O'Gorman's mother publicly repudiated a signed "Family Constitution" document, under which she held legal ownership of shares in the company in trust for the O'Gorman Family Business Partnership, Mr O'Gorman and his three siblings, Christopher, Melissa and Michelle, he claims.

All four siblings hold a 25pc share, with the estimated value of his shareholding at €12.5m, it is alleged.

The "enormous personal toll" of these events has been compounded by marital disharmony between his parents, who recently separated after 41 years of marriage, he added.

Mr Justice Brian McGovern said the case was "peculiarly suited" for mediation and urged the parties to consider that.

It would be "very undesirable" to have this family dispute involving a successful business being explored publicly, he said.

Rossa Fanning, representing Mr O'Gorman, said he would convey what the judge had said but, unfortunately, there was a "history of acrimonious disputes" that Mrs O'Gorman had found herself at the centre of over the years.


The judge agreed to join Christopher, Melissa and Michelle as notice parties in the case, which comes back to court in June.

Mr Fanning said Mr O'Gorman makes no criticism of his siblings and is not advancing any legal case against them, but needs to join them as the outcome of the case would affect their interests.

Mr O'Gorman said he was "shocked and personally devastated" and found it "profoundly upsetting" that his mother "publicly reneged on promises and commitments given to me over many years".

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