A row involving members of the Wright family, which owns and operates a well-known food and hospitality business, over the use of a storage facility at Howth Pier in north Dublin has come before the High Court.
A group of entities of the Wrights of Howth group claim they have been wrongfully locked out of a storage unit by two members of the Wright family who are not part of the business.
The group claims the defendants, Mark Wright and his daughter Shona Wright, have no legal entitlement to take possession or use the building until High Court proceedings concerning the disputed ownership of a lease for the store have been resolved.
The store was used for “unglamorous purposes”, the plaintiff entities say, but they require the space as they make room at other facilities to prepare Christmas hampers.
On Friday, Mr Justice Brian O’Moore granted related parties forming part of the Wrights of Howth group a temporary interim injunction restraining Mark Wright and Shona Wright from impeding, interfering or obstructing the plaintiffs’ access to a premise known as Store E, on West Pier in Howth.
The Wright group parties that secured the order are Simro Ltd, Bernadette Wright and her daughter Aishling Wright, Irelands Eye Seafoods Ltd, Wrights of Howth Seafood Bars Ltd, A Taste of Ireland Airports Ltd, Wrights Airport Convenience Store Ltd and Kitestown Ltd.
The order, granted while only the plaintiffs were represented, also restrains the defendants from placing any lock or access control device on the premises or from besetting or entering the premises.
The case is scheduled to return to court next week.
The court heard the group used the store, a former lifeboat station, for storage for several years. It was acquired on a 35-year lease from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, it is claimed.
In a sworn statement to the court in support of the injunction application, David Wright, who is the managing director of the group of companies known as Wrights of Howth, said his brother Mark Wright had been a director and shareholder of the group.
The parties encountered differences in 2018, and the next year Mark Wright left the group and started his own business.
Neither side was happy with the other’s adherence to a settlement agreement and fresh legal proceedings were issued, said David Wright.
Earlier this month, he claimed, signs, including planning notices in the name of Shona Wright, were attached to the store but were then removed.
On one occasion, David Wright claimed, he was walking at Howth Pier when a car driven by Mark Wright “swerved” at him. He said Mark Wright verbally abused and threatened him.
David Wright said he attempted to walk away from his brother. However, Mark Wright drove his car slowly alongside him and said he had footage of David Wright removing signs, which his brother said was criminal damage, it is claimed.
Mark Wright said he would use this in the ongoing court case about the store ownership and the alleged misappropriation of three trawlers, David Wright claimed.
In recent days, a large metal sign was placed on the door and his employees were locked out of the premises, he alleged. A new lock was placed on the store and the group’s employees do not have the keys for it.
David Wright said one of his employees was informed by Mark Wright that the group’s property must be removed from the store. A CCTV camera has also been placed on the building.
He was not seeking to stop Mark Wright from litigating the case, but the status quo was for the group to have continuous use of the store, he claimed.
While its ownership is in dispute, the defendants have never used that building.
The defendants’ unilateral actions, David Wright said, were in contempt of the ongoing proceedings between the parties.