By Ann O'Loughlin
A man who bought two cruiser berths on a River Shannon marina - which turned out to be "useless" - has been awarded more than €59,000 by the High Court for breach of contract.
Michael Begley bought the two 12-metre berths "off the plans" in 2005 for €40,000 each at the Jolly Mariner Marina Village, Brick Island, Coosan Road, Athlone, Co Westmeath. He also bought two apartments in the marina which were not subject of dispute.
The Marina Village was part of a development of mixed residential, retail, and marina units developed by Damesfield Ltd and on part of the waterway owned by John Lally.
Mr Begley owns an 11.5 metre cruiser and other small pleasure craft. He claimed his vessels cannot access the marina berths on account of the presence of a large rock outcrop close to the pontoon bedrock.
He sued Damesfield, Mr Lally and the Jolly M Management Company which managed the marina. He claimed, among other things, breach of contract and breach of convenant for quiet enjoyment.
His claims were denied.
Ms Justice Baker awarded Mr Begley €59,289.26 in damages jointly and severally against Damesfield and Mr Lally and said no claim was established against the management company.
She said that on top of the €40,000 purchase price of the berths, he paid €2,400 each in stamp duty "both of which are now useless for purpose".
However, it was accepted that these were "Celtic Tiger" developments and purchases, she said. A reasonable current value for each berth would be €15,000, she said.
The award however includes €5,467 he paid for service charges for the berths and some €19,000 he had to spent on rent for an alternative berth.
While Mr Begley made out a claim for breach of contract, his other claims, including for nuisance and breach of convenant, did not succeed, she said.
Mr Begley had sought on order that that Damesfield and Mr Lally make the waterway navigable. However, the judge said, Mr Begley accepted during the case that could not be reasonably achieved. Therefore his claim lay in damages, she said.
Earlier, Ms Justice Baker said the expert evidence for Damesfield and Mr Lally was that at some water levels there was sufficient water to access the berths.
However, she preferred the expert evidence for Mr Begley who said the fast flowing and variable currents of the river made it difficult for even an experienced marina to access the births, even in high water.
She was also persuaded by the expert evidence of a local boat surveyor who said one would be "relying on luck" to access the berths without damaging the vessel.