Richter orders the liquidation of the Dublin family business and the sale of its €1m assets

The High Court has ordered the liquidation of a family-owned paper and packaging company amid a dispute between board members and sisters over most of the proceeds from the sale of its Dublin premises for €1m.

eech Papers Ltd of Shamrock Place, North Strand, Dublin started out as a manufacturer of paper and packaging products and has recently transitioned into the secure destruction of confidential paper documents business.

Director Joseph Leech, who along with his wife and colleague Magdalene Leech owns 92 percent of the shares, says he founded the company and his late father was later involved.

However, the only other shareholder and director, Joseph’s sister Christine Coates, says the company was founded by her father.

Ms Coates had been the company’s accountant since 1983, was appointed director on the death of her father in 1988 and became an 8% shareholder in 1999.

In 2016 the premises of Shamrock Place were sold to a housing developer on a sale and leaseback agreement, meaning business could continue in the premises until such time as new development began.

When Ms Coates found out about the sale, she wanted to find out what happened to the proceeds of just over €1m. The court heard €400,000 of the proceeds was paid into Mr Leech’s pension.

Ms Coates brought an action before the High Court under the Companies Act alleging stockholder repression, disregard for their interests and the winding up of the company.

Mr and Mrs Leech denied the request, also arguing that Ms Coates had steered clear of the management of the company for several years.

Ms. Judge Siobhán Stack, in a ruling issued in July and published this week, ruled that the company should be wound up due to the Leeches’ actions in connection with the sale of the premises and the resulting non-recognition of proceeds.

The judge was satisfied that the company’s affairs disregarded Ms Coates’ interests given that all proceeds from the sale appeared to have been squandered.

This is because €400,000, almost 50 per cent of the net proceeds of €889,000, was used for Mr Leech’s pension and the remainder could not be properly accounted for, she said.

It seems likely that Ms Coates’ holding has either been significantly reduced in value or rendered worthless, she said.

While the normal remedy in cases like this was an order requiring the other shareholders to buy out the oppressed shareholder’s shares, the only remedy in this case was an order to wind up the company, the judge said.

When a company is wound up, an independent liquidator conducts an investigation into the company’s affairs. Richter orders the liquidation of the Dublin family business and the sale of its €1m assets

Fry Electronics Team

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