The owners of the 751ac Barne Estate in Co Tipperary are planning to lodge a motion in the High Court to have the case brought against them by Coolmore Stud’s John Magnier thrown out.
Magnier, his son John Paul and daughter Kate Wachman filed court proceedings against Richard Thomson Moore, Barne Estate Ltd, and two Jersey-registered companies - IQ EQ One and IQ EQ Two - in mid-October, aimed at forcing through a sale which the Magniers maintain was agreed last August.
Barne Estate’s legal team told the High Court this week that they intend to file a motion to dismiss the case.
The high-profile legal dispute centres on a €15m handshake between John Magnier and his wife Sue, Richard Thomson Moore and his wife Anna and auctioneer John Stokes.
Legal documents seen by the Irish Farmers Journal detail how they met on the evening of 22 August to hammer out the sale of the 12-bedroom mansion and 751ac estate.
The estate has been owned by the Moore family since the 1800s and managed by Richard Thomson Moore in recent years.
It was discussed that the sale could be made either as a direct land purchase or the purchase of shares in the Barne Estate Trust, which holds the land.
The Magniers and Thomson Moore also agreed that the farm machinery would be retained by Thomson Moore and a job offer would be made to the farm manager Colm O’Flaherty by Coolmore.
During the evening, Richard Thomson Moore and his wife left the room to consult with the trustees and beneficiary of the trust, his sister Alexandra.
The Magnier family’s case contends that there was no suggestion that the agreements, either to buy the land or shares, were conditional or subject to contract.
They also contend that it was clear that Richard Thomson Moore was authorised to do the deal and that it was binding.
Just over a week later, on 31 August, Barne Estate and John Magnier had a tillage agreement and an exclusivity agreement in place.
The tillage agreement was a licence to plough and sow the land, in exchange for €1.
Within days, Coolmore machinery was working on Barne Estate and seed costing €30,000 was purchased.
But while fieldwork under the tillage agreement was progressing at pace, the exclusivity agreement expired on 28 September and, despite a fortnight of talks between the Magnier and Barne camps, the sale was not completed.
The High Court action by the Magnier family is aimed at forcing Thomson Moore and the Barne Estate Trust to follow through on what the Magniers maintain was a binding deal.
Both Richard Thomson Moore and his legal representatives declined to comment when contacted by the Irish Farmers Journal.
The Magniers have also registered a lis pendens - a legal warning to other people that there is a dispute in relation to the property.
The Business Post this week reported that it understood that construction millionaire Maurice Regan wants to buy Barne Estate for €20m, some €5m more than Magnier.
Regan owns the 550ac Newtown Anner Stud located not five miles from Barne Estate as the crow flies.