James Elliot Construction (JEC) has brought the petition seeking the appointment of a liquidator to the firm, which is part of the Lagan Group of companies, over an alleged unpaid debt of more than €2.4m.
The application is opposed by Irish Asphalt, directors of the firm, and related entity Lagan Holdings Ltd, which is Irish Asphalt’s largest creditor.
They claim JEC has an ulterior motive in seeking to have the company liquidated, namely that it will give it a tactical advantage in separate ‘deceit’ proceedings JEC has brought against the company; its directors Kevin and Terry Lagan and John Gallagher; and another related entity, Lagan Cement Group Ltd.
The debt at the centre of the winding-up petition relates to a High Court judgment it obtained against the company in 2011.
That case arose out of the supply by Irish Asphalt to JEC of a stone infill with excessive amounts of pyrite used in the Ballymun Central Youth Facility building and which subsequently had to undergo major repairs.
That ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court, which in turn referred issues of law arising out of the action to the European Courts of Justice (ECJ).
Ultimately the appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court and the ECJ’s findings did not benefit Irish Asphalt’s position.
Moving the winding-up petition, Patrick Leonard, for JEC, said it was “just and equitable” that the company, which it was accepted is insolvent, be wound up.
Counsel said his client wants an official liquidator appointed to investigate the company’s affairs going back over a decade when litigation concerning pyrites first emerged.
John Gleeson, for Irish Asphalt,
says the company and others in the group underwent reorganisation following the recession.
The company, directors, and Lagan Holdings want JEC’s application dismissed or stayed until deceit proceedings have concluded.
If a liquidator is appointed, the parties claim the company is unlikely to defend the other proceedings, which could result in them suffering reputational damage, they claim.
JEC rejects claims it has ulterior motives in seeking to wind up Irish Asphalt.
The case opened before Mr Justice Tony O’Connor yesterday.