THE first of what could see some 2,000 legal actions taken over defective blocks was this week entered into the fast-track Commercial Court, a move welcomed by the Defective Blocks Ireland group.
The case on behalf of husband and wife teachers from Malin Head, Liam Ó Dochartaigh and Greinne Bean Uí Dochartaigh is described as one of five pathfinder or test cases which may open the floodgates for the thousands of householders affected by defective blocks.
Commenting on the decision to fast-track the first legal case in the defective blocks controversy to the Commercial Court, Shaun Hegarty on behalf of the Defective Blocks Ireland group on Tuesday said they welcome the decision to admit the case “as part of the multi-action legal case on behalf of homeowners in Donegal. Defective Blocks Ireland look forward to the next steps in the legal case and to bring resolution and justice for affected homeowners in the county”.
The application for entry of the case into the commercial list first came before Mr Justice Denis McDonald last November when he postponed until January a decision on whether to admit the case to the fast track court.
He said there was a need for case management and for the parties to discuss how it should proceed given the importance of these cases.
On Monday Robert Fitzpatrick SC, for the Ó Dochartaighs said that following engagement between the sides, it was agreed there should be five pathfinder cases and the Ó Dochartaigh case would be one of them.
The cases will not include a claim for personal injuries as they will have to be taken separately, he said.
In their action, the Ó Dochartaighs are suing Cassidy Brothers Concrete Products Ltd, Buncrana, Co Donegal which supplied blocks used to build their home, which were allegedly not fit for purpose.
They are also suing Donegal County Council as the “market surveillance authority” in relation to construction products.
They are also suing the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) for allegedly failing to perform its obligations as the national certification body for concrete products supplied by Cassidys.
The NSAI made the application to have the cases admitted to the Commercial Court.
Mr Justice McDonald said it was appropriate to admit the Ó Dochartaigh case to the commercial list so that matters can proceed in an orderly fashion.
He said he was very grateful for all the work done by the parties which “may not be visible but I do appreciate it”.
The case is being funded by not-for-profit Defective Blocks Ireland group set up by local men Adrian Sheridan and Sean Hegarty.
Coleman Legal Solicitors of Dublin are leading the cases.