Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE) Grafton Ltd has claimed that Bewley’s wants taxpayers to foot its rent requirements for its café on Dublin’s Grafton Street by suggesting that it will donate the venue’s Harry Clarke stained glass windows to the Irish people, and the former company has taken legal action against Bewley’s over a dispute about the ownership of the windows.
As reported by The Irish Times, RGRE Grafton Ltd has claimed that the donation of a heritage item to the state attracts a tax credit of 80% of its value, which means that Bewley’s would be getting taxpayers to fund its rent requirements.
RGRE reportedly rejected a proposal by Bewley’s to offset the windows’ value in lieu of rent by selling them to RGRE.
According to The Irish Times, RGRE told Bewley’s that it “can’t try to sell [RGRE] what [RGRE] already [owns]”, and RGRE said that the six stained glass windows, which are located on the venue’s ground floor, are estimated to worth over €1 million.
Bewley’s reportedly stated that the windows are not part of the property that houses the company’s Grafton Street café, which was sold by Bewley’s in 1987 to a previous owner and was subsequently purchased by RGRE, and that they have been treated as ornamental decorative panels, and have always remained in the ownership of Bewley’s.
Justice David Barniville admitted proceedings about the ownership dispute against the Bewley’s group of companies by RGRE Grafton Ltd to the fast-track Commercial Court list on Monday February 1. The case will come back in June.
Acccording to The Irish Times, RGRE Grafton Ltd chief executive Rory Williams said in an affidavit seeking admission to the commercial list that the windows are believed to have been installed in 1929 after being commissioned by Ernest Bewley and have “formed part of the premises ever since”.
Williams also reportedly said that Bewley’s is required to pay RGRE over €1.4 million annually as a tenant of the property that houses the Bewley’s café on Grafton Street, and that that figure has been challenged unsuccessfully on a number of occasions.
RGRE reportedly instituted legal proceedings against Bewley’s when the latter company did not provide documentation to prove that it owns the windows following requests to do so from the former company.
RGRE is reportedly seeking orders and declarations that the windows are part of the property that houses the Bewley’s café on Grafton Street and are therefore owned by RGRE, and that any purported transfer of ownership by Bewley’s is null and void.
The dispute between Bewley’s and RGRE over the stained glass windows follows a dispute between the two company’s over rent issues that arose last year.