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Damages may be sought in Titanic Quarter dispute

A property development company may seek damages if buyers are unable to complete on apartments in Belfast's Titanic Quarter, the High Court has heard.

Lawyers disclosed the potential alternative remedy in the case involving 12 customers being sued for failing to honour contracts at the flagship site.

Several defendants are fighting the action brought by Titanic Quarter Ltd by claiming they simply have no money.

A test case has been listed for next month to determine whether a defence of impecuniosity (a complete lack of cash) can shield them.

The company, owned by Dublin-based Harcourt Developments, issued writs against customers who signed up for apartments but are now struggling to secure finance.

Proceedings were triggered by plummeting property prices which have left some clients unable to secure mortgages for sales agreed at the height of the market.

Titanic Quarter Ltd is seeking orders for specific performance to compel the defendants to honour their side of the deal.

During a review hearing at the High Court today Lord Justice Girvan asked what happens if an order was granted but buyers cannot pay.

Michael Humphries, for the developer, said that was an issue his client was “grappling” with.

He said the difficulty was in distinguishing between those who genuinely have no money and others “who may be taking advantage of the bandwagon”.

Mr Humphries acknowledged there could be little point in trying to enforce an order on someone who is unable to complete. He confirmed another option in those circumstances would be to seek damages instead.

“The developer may think in years to come when property prices improve there may be some chance of it coming to fruition,” the barrister said.

But although Mr Humphries indicated some of the cases could end in claims for damages, he stressed his current instructions were to seek specific performance.

Titanic Quarter Ltd is one of a number of high-profile developers in Northern Ireland to bring cases over uncompleted contracts at new complexes in Belfast.

Lawyers for Big Picture Developments, who developed the Ormeau Bakery apartments, and PBN, who were behind the Woodlands Manor development, have been in the High Court regularly.

Belfast Telegraph