Cameron Murphy06.01.2017

Dundalk Stadium to the north of Dundalk in County Louth, Ireland, has won its case in the Court of Appeal against three bookmakers who will have their awards set aside in their argument against the racecourse.

The three bookmakers brought the case against the racecourse on behalf of thirty-three bookmakers for breach of contract after they lost their betting ring pitch positions during a €35 million redevelopment of the stadium in 2007.

The High Court found in favour of the bookmakers in 2015, awarding €48,376 to Patrick O’Hare based in Newry, €41,484 to John Hughes, a well-known racing commentator on TV in the UK and €23,929 to Francis Hyland, an officer of the Irish National Bookmakers Association.

The bookies argued that under national rules, the stadium breached their contracts by demanding an €8,000 capital contribution from each bookmaker towards the cost of the redevelopment in order to allow them to return to their pitches, or established bookie positions. Dundalk Racing countered that it was not registered until August 2007 and therefore, at the time when it sought the contribution, it was a new racecourse and not yet governed by national pitch rules.

Judge Gerard Hogan of the High Court, however, did not find that Dundalk Racing could be considered a new racecourse for the purposes of pitch rules and therefore bookies with seniority should not be expected to pay the contribution. The judge awarded the bookies enough to cover their losses from the first 12 months after the stadium opened.

Today, the Court of Appeal overruled the decision finding that while the racecourse had no entitlement to require the €8,000 contribution, the bookies would have suffered no loss if they had taken up their pitches and therefore the award of damages should be set aside.