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Irish Judge rules against Spain in rent arrears case

Source: Irish Times - Mon 2th Feb 2015
Irish Judge rules against Spain in rent arrears case

A Judge has struck out an application by the Kingdom of Spain for a declaration that it could not be sued for a rent arrears debt on its commercial offices at Molesworth Street, Dublin, because of sovereign immunity.

Gavin Mooney, counsel for landlords Hurstview Limited, told Judge Jacqueline Linnane in the Circuit Civil Court his client had to sue Spain for rent arrears after it had decided last year to cut its rent payments on its offices by almost half.

Hurstview Limited, also of Molesworth Street, Dublin, had agreed to the court striking out its claim on the basis that full rental payments had been made. Judge Linnane also struck out a motion by Spain seeking a court order that because it was a sovereign state it could not be made amenable to the jurisdiction of the Irish courts.

She awarded costs to Hurstview both in its claim for rent arrears and for meeting the challenge to the Spanish claim of sovereignty.

Mr Mooney said the Spanish authorities had not given any undertaking with regard to future rental payments, the first of which would fall due in April.

Judge Linnane said the rent debt case had earlier been adjourned to await the outcome of an appeal to the High Court of an earlier decision by her dismissing a claim that Spain was entitled to sovereign immunity from legal action by a firm of Irish engineers.

In that case NJ O'Gorman and Associates, Castleside Drive, Rathfrnham, Dublin, had claimed €36,450 for engineering services relating to the refurbishment of Spain's Molesworth Street offices.

High Court president, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, upheld Judge Linnane's decision. He ruled that the relationship between O'Gormans and the embassy was an ordinary commercial activity and did not attract the immunity normally enjoyed under international law by one state being sued by another.

Judge Kearns had been told that O'Gormans had been asked in 2008 to prepare a report on what work needed to be done to the embassy's offices in Molesworth Street.

The firm had carried out the work and had been paid but claimed they had done further works for which they had not been paid and for which the Spanish embassy denied having employed them.

The High Court had been told Spain's appeal against Judge Linnane's dismissal on sovereign immunity rested on the argument that the activities of employees of the embassy were designed to strengthen its ties with Ireland.

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