Judge John O’Neill ruled yesterday that he was making “no order” in relation to criminal proceedings against Garuda Ltd, a refrigeration company owned by Mr Lowry, an Independent TD for Tipperary North, which trades under the name of Streamline Enterprises.
The prosecution at Dublin District Court had been taken by the DPP on behalf of the Revenue Commissioners.
The firm had its registered offices at the Gables, Torquay Rd, Foxrock, Dublin, but recently, after 17 years, changed its registered office address to Thurles, Co Tipperary.
It was facing two charges relating to the filing of incorrect information and incorrect accounts, on or about December 22, 2003, in relation to the company’s corporation tax for 2002, contrary to section 1078(2)(a) and (3) of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997, as amended by section 211 of the Finance Act, 1999.
The third charge alleged the company provided an incorrect corporation tax return to Revenue on or about August 3, 2007, for the 2006 accounting year.
Summons were issued by Dublin District Court on December 10 last and served at the company’s accountants in Foxrock on January 16. However, by then, Garuda Ltd had changed its registered office to Thurles but the information was not updated on the CRO’s website until January 14.
Justin McQuade, defending, said there were issues in relation to jurisdiction. He argued they were not correctly served in accordance with the district court rules or the Companies Act. They were not delivered to the correct address and the only order the judge could make was “no order”, he submitted.
Grainne O’Neill, for the State, said that would mean a company could frustrate a prosecution by continually changing its registered office. She said summons were accepted by an employee of Garuda’s accountants.
She argued that the purpose of a summons is “a vehicle to obtain the presence of an accused before the court”, and as the defendant company was represented at the proceedings, “that cures any defects”.
She said the Foxrock address had been Garuda’s registered office for 17 years, until it was changed in January. It was still its registered address on December 10 last, when the summonses were initially applied for.
Judge O’Neill said the summons had been served at the company’s previous registered address and he held that the court did not have jurisdiction to deal with the case.