Saturday 7 December 2019

Landmark rates win for council

CEO of Wexford County Council Tom Enright.
CEO of Wexford County Council Tom Enright.

By David Looby

WEXFORD County Council has secured a landmark decision in the High Court in relation to outstanding commercial rates.

The council has been successful in a petition to the High Court to appoint a liquidator to DJBD Property Management Limited, 16 Woodbine Business Park, New Ross, following failure by the company to pay rates in respect of their property in Woodbine Business Park. The council took this unprecedented action following a long history of outstanding rates and a lack of engagement by the company in dealing with the matter.

At the High Court hearing on December 16, Mr Justice O'Connor, following a fully contested hearing, ordered that the company, DJBD, be wound up and that David Dowling of Sheil Kinnear & Co be appointed liquidator. The costs in the case have been awarded to the council.

Ensor O'Connor Solicitors, who represented Wexford County Council, noted that they have yet to see a High Court judge take such a dim view of a company and of its directors' conduct. It is reported that the court, in summing up their judgement, referred to the lack of response and engagement on the company's behalf, to the lack of regard to the county council and to the 'worrying smoke screen' put up by the company by way of defence, commenting that the Council 'should not be at the mercy of a company like DJBD'.

Tom Enright, chief executive of Wexford County Council, pictured, said the action was not taken lightly and was a direct result of the lack of engagement by the company. He added that the council had a responsibility to the other ratepayers in the county and in particular those businesses in the New Ross area that are operating in direct competition with this business, to address the outstanding debt.

The non-payment of rates by this company was no longer a situation the local authority could tolerate and they were left with no option but to take the matter to the High Court.

Mr Enright was quick to point out that the council continues to work with ratepayers in offering realistic options for paying rates and rates arrears and have payment plans in place where real difficulties are proven.

In addition the council has further extended their Rates Incentive Scheme which offers a discount to ratepayers that are paying their annual rates. However, where a business is operating in competition with other businesses and does not make any attempt to meet their statutory responsibility to pay commercial rates, Wexford County Council is prepared to take legal action up to and including High Court action to secure the debt which provides essential funding for local services in the county.

Wexford People