The legal dispute between Laing O'Rourke and John Magnier, the Irish tycoon, is set to intensify, The Times reports.

The pair entered an agreement in December 2006 for the joint development of 30 luxury villas on a seafront-facing plot of land in the Spanish resort of Marbella. As part of the deal, Laing O'Rourke set up Explore Investments, which agreed to pay two of Magnier's companies euros 25 million (£22.5m) for half the site.

No work has since been done on the project and Explore is refusing to pay Magnier's companies the money it owes. In November, the Irish courts ordered immediate payment of €3.5 million owed by Explore. Several more payments are scheduled before the deal is due to complete in 2011.

Laing O'Rourke has applied to the High Court in London to make Explore insolvent and for the court to appoint a liquidator.

The Times