Marc Godart made personally liable for 80 per cent of ex-tenant’s legal costs – The Irish Times

Controversial landlord Marc Godart has been made personally liable for 80 per cent of a former tenant’s legal costs spent pursuing him over a €15,433 Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) award for unlawful eviction.

Although Lizet Peña-Herrera’s High Court case was against Green Label Short Lets Ltd, Mr Justice Brian Cregan said it was clear Mr Godart, the firm’s sole director, was the “real party” to the litigation, which he resisted “tooth and nail”.

The judge said he was satisfied Mr Godart, a Luxembourg national, “acted in bad faith and with impropriety from start to finish in the conduct of these proceedings”.

Mr Godart “clearly believed” he could avail of a “free rider” situation whereby if he won Green Label would be awarded its legal costs and if he lost the company – which he claims ceased trading and had no assets – would be unable to pay Ms Peña-Herrera’s costs.

It was reasonable to draw inference that Mr Godart (35) or companies he controls provided funds to resist the ex-tenant’s application for him to answer questions in court on the firm’s finances, the judge said.

Ms Peña-Herrera, a psychologist originally from Bolivia who has been living in Ireland since 2008, was not successful in all of her legal arguments to the court, so the landlord should not be liable for the full amount of her costs, the judge concluded.

He agreed to a request from Gary McCarthy, senior counsel for Mr Godart and the company, to suspend the effects of the order pending a potential appeal.

Ms Peña-Herrera’s High Court application led to the court granting an order requiring Mr Godart to come to court to explain the company’s financial affairs.

Following this, the court was told Green Label had secured a loan to pay her the amount ordered by the RTB in 2022.

Mr Godart’s name and companies he is linked to have arisen in several court cases and RTB complaints. Earlier this week, a District Court judge gave him nine days to pay more than €13,000 damages the RTB had awarded to two former tenants over their “unlawful eviction” from a property on Emmet Street, Dublin 1.

In his judgment on the costs, given on Thursday, Mr Justice Cregan criticised Mr Godart’s swearing of a “false” statutory declaration, which accompanied a notice to quit, stating Green Label owned and intended to sell the Dublin 8 rental property from which Ms Peña-Herrera was evicted.

The judge noted Mr Godart later told the High Court the firm has no assets and “merely acts as a letting agent”, while his lawyers said the property is owned by a woman living in Co Wexford.

Mr Justice Cregan said Mr Godart’s behaviour in swearing the false declaration was “an act of bad faith and impropriety”.

Ms Peña-Herrera was represented in the High Court by John Kennedy SC, Liam Bell BL and McGrath Mullan Solicitors.

She was evicted in 2022 after raising health and safety concerns arising from alleged overcrowding in the premises. The RTB described it as “an egregious unlawful eviction” carried out without warning while she was at work.

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