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Builder claims auctioneers’ watchdog wrongly refused compensation


A builder has claimed in the High Court that the auctioneers and estate agents’ watchdog wrongly refused to compensate him for money paid to an agent whose operating licence had expired.

Cannice Martin, a groundworks contractor, has challenged a decision of the Property Services Appeals Board to disallow his appeal against a decision of the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA) to refuse him compensation.

Mr Martin, from Keady in Co Armagh, says he lost €12,500 to Edward Paul Nugent Ltd, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, which was a deposit paid to the auctioneer.

He says he was approached by Nugents in relation to the sale of the lands at a time when the firm had failed to renew its auctioneers’ licence and knowing it was about to expire. It also knew or ought to have known at the time it was insolvent, he claims. The firm, which also operated Castleblayney Mart, later went into liquidation.

Mr Martin sought redress from the PSRA’s compensation fund but this was refused in December 2018 on the basis that Nugent was not licensed by the authority at the time the deposit was paid. The PRSA deals with complaints against those who are registered with it.

Mr Martin brought an appeal and the board found he was entitled to compensation.

The PRSA then brought a High Court appeal over the board’s finding.

It transpired the board was not properly constituted at the time and it was sent back for reconsideration by a freshly constituted appeal board which last February upheld the PRSA decision.

Mr Martin, in his challenge against the appeals board, to which the PRSA is a notice party, says that decision was fundamentally flawed and breached his right to fair procedures and natural and constitutional justice. Mr Justice Charles Meenan this week granted him leave to bring his challenge following a one-side only represented application from Sunniva McDonagh SC, for Mr Martin.

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The judge, noting the case was about only €12,500 which seemed “quite extraordinary”, said the case could come back in July.



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