Dublin City Council wants High Court to retract permission for Doyle’s pub owner to pursue claim

Publican in dispute with council over validity of documentation for extension fit-out works

Dublin City Council intends to ask the High Court to retract its permission for the owner of a pub opposite Trinity College to pursue his case alleging “wholly disproportionate” decisions purport to require demolition of certain fit-out works.

Last month, publican Declan Doyle received the court’s authorisation for his action to proceed over the council’s refusal to register his building compliance certificate for extension fit-out works to connect Doyle’s pub with an adjacent former betting shop.

The local authority has refused to register his “certificate of compliance on completion”, which must be conducted by an authorised architect, as it says works begun without a valid “commencement notice” can never achieve such a certificate. The council says a commencement notice must be submitted in advance of any construction works.

Mr Doyle claims he has so far invested €1.26 million in the business venture, but a December 2021 letter from the local authority warned removal of “unnotified” works “may be the only option” to achieve building regulation compliance. The purported requirement for deconstruction relates to all works undertaken without “necessary notice”.

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He says he has lost “very significant turnover” due to the halting of works for more than 18 months before the District Court overturned the enforcement notice last May. The council is separately asking the High Court to judicially review this annulment.

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When Mr Doyle’s case, which is also taken by pub-operating company Amatrek Limited, was mentioned to court on Tuesday, lawyers for Dublin City Council said they intend to bring a motion to set aside the court grant of “leave” for Doyle to pursue his action.

Barrister Christopher Hughes, for the council, said he will issue this motion and next May 14th ask the court to set a date for hearing this. The issues raised by his client relate to the timing of Mr Doyle’s case, he said.

Ms Justice Niamh Hyland outlined how she expects preparations for the motion to progress, and adjourned the case.

Mr Doyle, represented by Herbots Solicitors, seeks damages and orders quashing the council’s enforcement notice and its invalidation of his certificate of compliance on completion.

He is also asking the court to declare that failure to have a valid building works commencement notice does not preclude a compliance certificate from being registered by a county council. Alternatively, he says, the relevant part of the Building Control Regulations should be struck down.

He claims his loss “markedly contrasts” with the “relatively modest nature of the fitout works carried out” and the council’s justification for its enforcement notice. The enforcement notice referred “generically” to three parts of the Building Regulations but did not identify the works alleged to be non-compliant, Mr Doyle claims.

He says he has at all times sought to ensure the works comply with legal requirements and he believes the works comply with building regulations.

It is difficult to see why a “wholesale demolition of works” is required, he says, adding that the cost of deconstructing and rebuilding would be “substantial”, “not affordable” and “wholly wasteful”.

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