Brother ordered to pay €250,000 over drilling-company dispute in Kerry

A man must pay €245,000 to buy out his brother in a dispute over the running of a former drilling company in Co Kerry they jointly owned, the High Court ruled.

The ruling arose out of a failure to honour an agreement a year ago to settle the dispute between Noel and Leo Hilliard over their former Hilliard Drilling Ltd business, in Listowel, Co Kerry.

Noel, as part of the agreement, was to pay €250,000 to Leo to buy out Leo's 50% interest in the company, but this did not happen.

The dispute arose after it was claimed Leo was not getting paid and not receiving adequate answers to queries he raised with his brother.

It was claimed Leo stopped working as a result of stress and while he was absent, in 2017, Noel set up a new company called Hilliard Ground Engineering, which Leo was excluded from.

Leo claimed Noel had syphoned off assets from Hilliard Drilling into the new company which was operating from the same premises as the previous firm.

Leo brought High Court proceedings in the name of Hilliard Drilling against Noel and the new company. The case was settled in April last year with Noel agreeing to pay the €250,000 but he only paid €5,000.

Leo then went back to court to have the settlement enforced.

On Friday, Ms Justice Una NíRaifeartaigh said Leo was entitled to sue on the basis of the settlement and Noel was in breach of contract. She ruled he should pay the outstanding €245,000, taking account of the €5,000 already paid.

She rejected Noel's argument that because Hilliard Drilling no longer existed, the settlement agreement a year ago could not stand as the original case was brought in the name of that now-defunct company. It was argued that the settlement was not an agreement between two individuals and Leo was not a party to that contract.

The judge said Noel only raised this point when it "no longer suited his interests" and when Leo had brought proceedings in his own name to have the settlement enforced.

She could give directions that steps be taken so Hilliard Drilling can be restored to the Companies Registration Office However, she doubted Noel Hilliard would wish to avail of this option given it will confer no tangible benefit upon him.

In those circumstances, she directed he pay the outstanding money to Leo.

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