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INM has lost its battle to block an application appointing High Court inspectors to the company

The ruling was made this morning.

6321 Independent House_90540582 Source: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

Updated 1.20pm

INDEPENDENT NEWS AND Media has lost its judicial review regarding an attempt to block the ODCE from trying to appoint High Court inspectors to the media company.

This morning at the High Court, Justice Seamus Noonan said that while INM’s attempt to block the ODCE action because it violated fair procedures was “novel and without precedent”, he had concluded that it must fail.

“I am satisfied that as a matter of law, such a proposition can not be sustained,” Noonan said in his judgement.

INM had argued that, in bringing a 200-page affidavit regarding the behind-the-scenes goings-on at the media company to the High Court, the ODCE had erred in not first showing that affidavit to INM itself so that it might formulate a response.

In losing its judicial review, the saga has effectively been moved back to where it was in mid-April, when the ODCE’s first application had been due to be heard.

Noonan said that to expect a principle of fair procedure in this scenario is “incorrect”, and that the adversarial nature of the Irish legal system means that assertions of wrongdoing are a matter of course.

He said that it was difficult to see how the ODCE could have made its application to the court without expressing some views as to that which it had been confronted.

The judge said that “every litigant suffers damage in the form of inconvenience and expense” when embroiled in a court action, and that this is an “unavoidable consequence of our legal system and the dispensation of justice”.

‘Not exceptional’

He added that he rejected the “submission that the applicant’s (INM) case is exceptional or unique”.

He said that it was his opinion that granting INM access to the ODCE’s affidavit a few days prior to it being filed on 23 March in order to give a response would not have made sense:

“Were that to be the position, the prospect looms large of the respondent becoming embroiled in lengthy, complex and costly procedures akin to quasi criminal trials held entirely in private.”

It is hard to envisage how in practice such a system could be workable.

He further suggested that to do so “would not be consistent with the public interest” regarding the very significant corporate oversight functions that the ODCE performs.

He said therefore that he must dismiss INM’s application.

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The application to appoint High Court inspectors will now be heard before the President of the High Court Peter Kelly once more.

Kelly had previously indicated that the matter, were INM to lose its judicial review, was likely to be heard before the end of the current court term, which expires at end July.

Reacting to the news this afternoon, INM said in a statement that it would now “consider the terms of today’s decision and the further action that the company might take in the interests of the company and its stakeholders”.

A spokesperson added that it expected that the ODCE’s application will be heard before the end of this month.

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