Cattle dealer loses case

The President of the High Court has dismissed on all grounds an action for damages by a cattle dealer who claimed he was put out of business due to alleged failure by a co-op to to honour an alleged “contract” concerning credit terms.

When Finbar Tolan met in August 2012 with Connaught Gold Co-op Society Ltd, now called Aurivo Co-op Society Ltd, a “staggering” sum of about €464,000 was due, no managers of any commercial operation could be expected to ignore outstanding sums “of that magnitude” and it was no suprise the co-op felt “something had to be done”, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said.

He was giving his judgment dismissing the action by Mr Tolan, Middle Mace, Claremorris, Co Mayo against the co-op for damages on grounds including alleged breach of contract.

Mr Tolan claimed the co-op failed and refused to implement the terms of a July 2012 credit agreement after he bought cattle at marts at Balla and Ballinrobe.

The co-op denied the claims, argued the action was without merit and was brought in response to High Court proceedings by the co-op against Mr Tolan in October 2012 which lead to it getting judgment for €154,000 over stock sold, supplied and delivered to him.That judgment has been appealed, the High Court heard.

Mr Justice Kearns said he had no doubt Mr Tolan was a highly skilled trader in various marts who was trying to purchase animals at the best price and sell them on as fast as possible.

However, the evidence showed, and the court accepted, there was “nothing” in the suggestion the co-op was out “to do down” Mr Tolan because he was bidding against a particular dealer, the judge said.

The purpose of meetings between the defendant and Mr Tolan from June 2012 was to address issues including his level of debt, credit limits, and issues concerning cheques and payments, the judge said. He accepted the defence evidence a June 2012 meeting proved inconclusive and there were further meetings in July and August.

Mr Tolan was told to get an overdraft facility, took steps in that regard and produced a letter of offer but there was “nothing formal” until late July, he said.

A document concerning dealings between Mr Tolan and the co-op was “a work in progress” and not, as Mr Tolan alleged, a “contract”, the judge found. The court was satisfied it was never intended as a legal document but rather a “holding operation”

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