The founders of collapsed tidal energy firm OpenHydro have been ordered to bear the six-figure legal costs of last year’s failed bid to save the company.
Around 100 staff in the company’s Greenore office lost their jobs when provisional liquidators were appointed to the firm last July.
Brendan Gilmore and Donal O’Flynn tried to stop the firm’s slide into liquidation last September with an examinership petition that was rejected by the High Court.
The business owed around €120 million to parent company, the French Naval Group, which had invested €260 million in OpenHydro before pulling the plug on its operations.
Gilmore and O’Flynn moved to appeal the High Court ruling but withdrew that appeal last September when it became apparent there was no chance of the company securing fresh investment. According to report in The Business Post, the High Court heard this changed their view and they no longer believed OpenHydro had a reasonable chance of survival.
However last Friday they opposed an application by the French corporate giant for them to pay the costs of the two-day examinership hearing. Barrister Neil Steen submitted to the court that his clients, the founders and minority shareholders, had relied on two expert reports and had at all times acted in good faith.
He said they had nothing to gain from a successful examinership deal as their interest in the company would have been extinguished. Their aim had been to preserve the business for the benefit of employees and the economy as a whole.
The company, which was one of the first to try and harness tidal energy commercially, had turbines in Canada and hired around 100 employees. It aimed to be a global leader in tidal energy but remained in the pre-commercialisation stage after 14 years in business.
Rossa Fanning, for Navan Group, said the withdrawal of the appeal by Gilmore and O’Flynn meant they were struck with the High Court decision and that costs routinely followed from that.
“There was a winner and there was a loser. I was undoubtedly the winner, he said, adding that good faith did not give losing litigants a pass on costs.