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File photo of businessman and former presidential candidate Seán Gallagher. Leah Farrell/
heating system

Air conditioning dispute between Seán Gallagher's firm and Nokia comes before court

Employees in the Nokia office reportedly had to wear their jackets while working.

A DISPUTE BETWEEN a property company of former presidential candidate Seán Gallagher and Nokia Ireland over heating and cooling systems for a Dublin premises has come before the High Court.

Nokia Ireland is seeking various orders against its landlord Clyde Real Estate Blanchardstown Ltd, including an injunction preventing Clyde from closing down, demolishing or decommissioning a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) plant pending the outcome of the full hearing of the dispute.

The application, which is opposed, opened before the High Court today when Justice Teresa Pilkington heard claims by Nokia that conditions in its office, where 100 people are employed, were described as being “Arctic” and difficult to work in due to the alleged failure to provide proper heating services.

In a sworn statement Gallagher, who is CEO of Clyde Real Estate, disputes this claim and said the temperatures in the Nokia office had been recorded by experts as being quite suitable and acceptable for an office environment pending the installation of a replacement HVAC system in January.

Nokia, represented in court by Michael Howard SC and Imogen McGrath BL, said they had complained about excessively hot and cold temperatures at the premises since 2016.

Nokia initiated proceedings in June, when Ireland was experiencing a heat wave, claiming Clyde was in breach of a lease agreement of March 2015 and was required to provide heating, ventilating and air conditioning services in line with the terms of the lease.

Opening the case Howard said his clients and its workers had been enduring cold temperatures in the office, far below the accepted 18-23 degrees Celsius.

Wearing jackets while working 

On dates in October and early November counsel said temperatures in the office were low and the court heard that workers were sharing portable heaters to stay warm, and had to wear their jackets while working.

Counsel said Nokia was concerned that temperatures in the office could drop to a level where the employees would not be able to work.

Counsel said his client does not accept Clyde’s claims that the new HVAC system will be up and running early in the new year. Such a claim was “unstateable” counsel said.

Counsel also told the court that Clyde had not properly informed it about the landlord’s ongoing redevelopment works of the building.

It is also Nokia’s case that such works are being carried out at times to cause major disruption and inconvenience to Nokia’s business.

Clyde, represented by Ciaran Lewis SC and John Freeman BL, said it is in the process of replacing the former obsolete HVAC system at the premises which is due for delivery in early January and will be installed as part of ongoing works to the premises.

It does not dispute it is required to provide HVAC plant to serve Nokia’s premises. It claims that under a proper construction of the lease agreement, the electricity and gas consumed in operating a HVAC was the responsibility of Nokia as a tenant. Nokia disputes this.

‘Difficult to understand’

In response to Nokia’s claims, Clyde says the claims regarding the recent temperatures in the building were “difficult to understand” in light of empirically observed temperatures at the Nokia office.

Clyde also claims that the temporary heating measures which were implemented to deal with perceived low temperatures in the building are sufficient to achieve satisfactory temperatures in the office.

It cited the contents of an expert report which states that the lowest recorded temperature in the office on 20 November was 17.6 C and the highest was 22.8 C.

Clyde said its agents have regularly liaised with Nokia and sought to provide it with considerable notice of proposed works. It claims that Nokia ignored its correspondence for several weeks and chose not to respond.

Every day for the last number of months works have been carried out at the premises, including the installation of a new fire alarm and new emergency lighting systems, Clyde also submitted.

Clyde said every aspect of the works being carried out on the building has been carefully planned to cause minimum disruption to Nokia and the other tenants.

The hearing continues.

Comments are closed due to ongoing legal proceedings. 

Aodhan O Faolain