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The ODCE's application has been opposed by John Delaney. File photo.
High Court

Judgement reserved on watchdog's application for disputed John Delaney documents

The judge said she would do her best to give judgement as soon as possible.

A HIGH COURT judge has reserved judgement on whether over 1,100 disputed documents seized from the FAI can be used as part of an-ongoing criminal investigation into the association. 

The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement and former FAI Ceo John Delaney are in dispute over whether some 1,120 documents relevant to him seized by the corporate watchdog are covered by Legal Professional Privilege (LPP). 

The ODCE has asked the court to make orders allowing it to examine the disputed material, which were taken as part of 283,000 documents covering a 17-year period, seized from the FAI by the ODCE in February 2021.

The ODCE’s application has been opposed by Delaney, who is a notice party to the directions action against the FAI over the seized material.

Following the conclusion of extensive legal submissions from the parties today Justice Leonie Reynolds reserved her decision.

The judge said she was conscious that the ODCE was seeking a quick decision, and said that she would do her best to give judgement as soon as possible.

The judge also noted that there was no issue between the FAI and the ODCE as to any of the documentation seized from the association which the director seeks is covered by LPP.

Seeking the order Kerida Naidoo SC for the ODCE said that the court had previously received a report, compiled by independent barristers where recommendations were made regarding which documents are covered by LPP.

Counsel said that arising out of that report some 1,120 documents remain in dispute between his client and Delaney.

Counsel said the ODCE’s position is that the disputed material should be made available to it for examination as part of its continuing criminal investigation.

It was “in the public interest to do so”, particularly given that the material was taken as part of a criminal investigation.

Counsel said that allowing his clients sight of what was initially a huge volume of material was the practicable thing to do.

Counsel said that the parties in this instance were not involved in some sort of discovery application in civil proceedings.

Counsel said the ODCE rejected Delaney’s objection against the application.

What the notice party’s lawyers were seeking to do was effectively asking the ODCE to open up its investigation to date before the court.

Such an action, counsel said would have the potential effect of compromising its investigation.

Lawyers for the currently UK-based Delaney argued the disputed documents and emails are covered by LPP, and therefore cannot be used by the corporate watchdog as part of its criminal investigation.

In his submissions to the court Paul McGarry SC for Delaney said that the court is not entitled to make the order sought by the ODCE, until the court has gone through all of the disputed material.

What the ODCE is trying to do, counsel said, is to override provisions made in the relevant legislation regarding material over which claims of LPP are made.

Counsel said that all the disputed material should be individually considered by the court before any order is made allowing the ODCE have sight over anything Delaney says is covered by LPP.

Comments are closed as the legal proceedings are ongoing.

Aodhan O Faolain