A €10m action by former Dairymaster CEO Edmond (Ed) Harty against the company his father founded has been before the High Court.
The case was categorised by Justice Liam Kennedy as an “unfortunate dispute within the family responsible for the ownership and management of a world-class business”.
Founded by Edmond Patrick (Ned) Harty in Causeway, Co Kerry in 1968, Dairymaster grew under his son’s stewardship, and now employs 300 people.
A previous case was “resolved by agreement without trial”.
Under the terms of that agreement, Ed Harty, who stepped down as CEO in November 2020, relinquished his majority shareholding in Dairymaster in exchange for payments of €44m over five years.
Of that sum, €10m remains outstanding.
A structural change in the ownership of Dairymaster occured last year, with 99.65% of the voting shares transferred to a company called Bovis, newly incorporated in the Isle of Man.
The owners of these shares, Edmond Patrick Harty (known as Ned) and John Harty, Ed Harty’s father and brother, respectively, received shares in Bovis in exchange.
Ed Harty contended that this amounts to an internal sale of the company, triggering the immediate payout of the outstanding €10m.
Justice Kennedy has effectively found in his favour, affording both parties a “very short window” to seek to agree payment for the outstanding payments, including interest.
He expressed the hope that “the clarification of responsibilities in this judgment will obviate the need for judgment to be entered, which could be unhelpful from the perspective of the business and its owners”, appealing for “the benefits of constructive engagement” to be recognised.