Protecting the Integrity & Reputation of Irish Horseracing

Alleged debt due to M.J. Grassick Referral Hearing

Referral in respect of alleged debt due to M.J. Grassick

The Referrals Committee, Judge Tony Hunt (in the Chair), J.R. Craigie and Valerie Cooper met at the Turf Club on 27th September 2011 to reconvene in relation to an adjourned hearing on 31st August 2011.  The hearing related to a matter referred to the Referrals Committee by Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the Turf Club following a request from the Irish Trainers Association, on behalf of one of its members, M.J. Grassick, to consider whether of not a former owner of Mr. Grassick’s is in breach of Rule 272 as a result of his failure to pay an alleged debt despite a number of requests to do so.  The original hearing on 31st August was limited to why M.J. Grassick had not pursued the alleged debt in the Civil Courts.

Conal Boyce, on behalf of the Turf Club, told the Committee that the Turf Club had received two letters from solicitors acting on behalf of the alleged debtor who had sought clarification on a number of matters which arose as a result of the first hearing.  In their second letter they concluded by stating that their client did not accept that the matter can be dealt with under Turf Club Rules for jurisdiction reasons and that he was declining to engage in such a process as to do otherwise could be ascribed as accepting that the Turf Club has the right to engage thereon.

Frank Ward, on behalf of M.J. Grassick, said that his client had also received a letter from the alleged debtor where the alleged debtor raised a number of issues directly with Mr. Grassick which had been referred to at the hearing on 31st August.  Mr. Ward said that he had replied on behalf of his client directly to the alleged debtor.  In conclusion, Mr. Ward asked for the hearing to be adjourned so as this client could proceed to recover the debt due through the civil courts.

For transcript purposes, copies of all correspondence between the alleged debtor’s solicitors and both the Turf Club and M.J. Grassick was read into the record.

Having considered the matter, the Committee noted that there was no dispute that the alleged debtor placed a horse to be trained with M.J. Grassick and that as a registered owner the alleged debtor is subject to the Rules of Racing.  This includes the possibility of matters being referred to the Chief Executive for investigation.  Thereafter the Chief Executive has a responsibility to act appropriately and to refer matters to the Referrals Committee who have a right to deal with such referrals and make whatever enquiries are necessary.  They noted that the matter has been placed with the Referrals Committee in conformity with the rules.  They also noted that the Committee is entitled to consider whether the rules are applicable.  In relation to other issues raised in the correspondence regarding the anonymity of the alleged debtor, the Committee said that they were happy that the press release issued by the Turf Club was worded appropriately.

The Committee said that they had not considered whether any debt was due or owing by the alleged debtor.  They noted that the alleged debtor was on full notice of the substance of what today’s hearing was about but that he decided not to appear.  They accepted that the appropriate forum for the matter is now the Civil Court and agreed to adjourn the hearing pending the determination of the matter by the Courts.  They agreed that the case may be reopened by the Referrals Committee, if necessary, after the court hearing if requested to do so by either party.

The case was presented by Conal Boyce, Wilkinson & Price Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare. 

M.J. Grassick was represented by Frank Ward, Frank Ward & Company Solicitors, Equity House, Upper Ormond Quay, Dublin 7.


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