Lawsuit against former managing director of builders providers settled

An extraordinary legal dispute which pitted one of the country’s largest building materials providers against its former managing director and one of its main competitors has been settled.

he Commercial Court proceedings, issued by Home Project Centre Ltd (HPC), trading as TJ O’Mahony, C&D Providers and PH Ross, centred on claims its former MD, Dennis O’Connor, sold a 10pc stake in the firm to rival company Fosglow Ltd for €1.1m and shared trade secrets.

HPC’s directors refused to register the transfer of Mr O’Connor’s shares to Fosglow, which owns Core Builders Merchants, the business formerly known as Clondalkin Builders Providers.

Under the terms of the settlement, Mr O’Connor is to pay damages of €130,000 to HPC and will be restrained from disclosing any of its trade or business secrets. HPC is the second-largest building materials business in the country, after Grafton Group, trading at 18 locations and employing almost 400 people.

Mr O’Connor (50), of Aghadoe, Killarney, Co Kerry, departed HPC in January last year after nine years with the firm. He had built up a 10pc shareholding during his time there under an employee incentive scheme.

But he was sued by HPC eight months after his departure amid claims he sold the shareholding to Fosglow and shared trade secrets with it.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Mr O’Connor has been commercial director of Core Builders Providers since June of last year.

The court was told Mr O’Connor agreed to protect the confidentiality of HPC’s information under the terms of a departure deal.

But HPC alleged Mr O’Connor transferred confidential and commercially sensitive company documents to a private email address between November 2020 and January 2021, including information about its customers, operations, plans and personnel, before sharing trade secrets with Fosglow.

HPC and its directors Sean Moran, Emily Moran and Sean McNamara sued Mr O’Connor, Fosglow Ltd and its owners, Foxrock husband and wife Alan Hegarty and Emma Maye. Ms Maye is a daughter of the late Dundrum Town Centre developer Liam Maye.

Fosglow later issued proceedings of its own against HPC, the Morans and Mr McNamara.

When the dispute was mentioned before Mr Justice Denis McDonald on Monday, he was told the matter had settled.

Under the terms of a consent order, the court found the decision by HPC’s directors not to register the transfer of the shares was a lawful exercise of their powers.

Judgment will also be entered against Mr O’Connor for a sum of €130,000 in favour of HPC and its directors in respect of a claim for damages.

Injunctions were also agreed to, restraining Mr O’Connor from breaching HPC’s confidence and from disclosing, copying, retaining or using any trade or business secrets or confidential information or documents of the company.

Fosglow declined to comment.

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