Proceedings against Denis Desmond and Caroline Downey set aside

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The High Court has set aside third-party proceedings against concert promoters Denis and Caroline Desmond in a case taken over an alleged 2015 cycling accident on a ramp near their home in Killiney, Co Dublin.

In a judgment, Mr Justice Garrett Simons said there had been an “inordinate and inexcusable” delay by defendants Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ), Ireland’s national public transport provider, and CIÉ Group Property Management in joining the Desmonds as third parties in the action.

The proceedings are also taken against Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.

Action

In his personal injuries action, William Purcell, of Meadow Court, Naas, Co Kildare, claims he came off his bicycle in March 2015 when he hit an unmarked, non-standard speed ramp on the Strand Road, noted the judge.

Mr Purcell alleged the ramp was a hazard due to it being indistinguishable from the roadway and overshadowed by an overgrown tree.

The Desmonds were brought into the case on the application of the CIÉ defendants, but they successfully applied to the court to have the third-party notices set aside on grounds of delay.

CIÉ pleaded that the Desmonds had installed the ramp without CIÉ’s knowledge or consent, according to the judgment. It was further claimed that CIÉ was entitled to a full indemnity from the Desmonds.

Mr Justice Simons noted that the installation of the speed ramp had been the subject of “contentious” correspondence between solicitors for CIÉ and the Desmonds some 20 years ago. The existence of this exchange speaks to the state of CIÉ’s knowledge of the ramp’s existence since 2002, he said.

In the communications, CIÉ cited an example of a badly constructed speed ramp elsewhere that had resulted in a claim by an injured motorist, the judge said.

Mr Desmond was asked to remove the ramp and was told he could forward plans to CIÉ’s engineers if he wished to build a properly constructed ramp and put the necessary indemnities in place.

Mr Justice Simons said the information CIÉ relied upon in joining the third parties was not newly disclosed and was already within CIÉ’s knowledge when the personal injuries proceedings were served.

The Civil Liability Act 1961 provides that a defendant who wishes to make a claim for contribution must serve a third-party notice as soon as is reasonably possible, noted Mr Justice Simons.

Delay

The CIÉ sought primarily to rely on their own delay in delivering a defence as a reason for absolving their failure to seek leave to join the third parties within a reasonable time, he said.

The judge found there had been significant delay both in making the application to issue third-party notices and, subsequently, in serving those notices on the Desmonds leading to a cumulative delay of more than two years.

Mr Justice Simons expressed a provisional view that the Desmonds, having been entirely successful in their application, are entitled to their legal costs.

Mr Desmond co-founded MCD Productions, one of the largest concert promoters in Europe. Music producer and manager Caroline Downey, named Caroline Desmond in the legal proceedings, is a co-owner of MCD.

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