Judge: Lord must wait to recover paintings
on 20/09/2012 00:00:00
Judge O'Keeffe said there was no clause banning reproductions in the agreement under which Lord Inchiquin had loaned the portraits to the hotel.
The paintings have hung in Dromoland for decades. The hotel had said it was prepared to return the paintings to Lord Inchiquin who, it agreed, owned them. It wanted firstly to take copies of them to cover the chasms of wall space laid bare by an en masse return.
The company had denied claims by Lord Inchiquin that some of the €1.4m worth of paintings and their gold leaf gilt frames had been damaged, but any claim in this respect will have to await determination at the full trial, expected early next year.
Judge O'Keeffe told Frank Callanan, counsel for Lord Inchiquin, the court would be in a position at the full trial to ascertain the nature of the agreement governing the arrangement whereby the paintings had continued to hang in the hotel.
Lord Inchiquin had claimed the agreement had been validly terminated by his solicitor Robert Dore in a letter to the defendant in May 2012. The letter had claimed the defendant had done untold damage to the paintings, which was continuing, and had made some copies unknown to the plaintiff.
Judge O'Keeffe said Lord Inchiquin had said he had a buyer for the art. It was stated he intended to sell them to a family member.
Mark Nolan, the hotel's general manager, had told the court the portraits had hung in the castle for decades and he had disputed the assertion that they had been damaged or that Dromoland Castle Holdings had been negligent or reckless.
Mr Callanan had told the court the original agreement was silent on reproduction of the paintings but claimed the defendant had no entitlement to reproduce them.
The judge told Jonathan Newman, counsel for Dromoland Castle Holdings, that whether or not Lord Inchiquin would be able to establish in law that an implied term banning reproduction existed would have to await the outcome of the case.
In determining if there was a prohibition on reproducing the portraits, the court would have to consider at the full trial the implication of Lord Inchiquin's acceptance in legal argument that there was no prohibition on hotel visitors taking photographs of the paintings and producing images for their own benefit. No claim had been made in copyright.
The judge said that if the defendant reproduced the paintings pending the trial then it was at risk to a claim for damages.