AG to get notice of CountyGlen case

 

THE Attorney General is to be notified that three parties against whom CountyGlen is taking actions want to challenge the admissibility of the inspector's report on constitutional grounds, it was stated in the High Court yesterday.

Miss Justice Laffoy adjourned the hearing until next Tuesday. "I accept it is a uniquely difficult situation. Yesterday I said it was unprecedented. It is a very peculiar situation," she said.

CountyGlen is taking actions against members of the Carway family, the Anglo Irish Bank, and a firm of solicitors, Connolly, Sellors, Geraghty, Fitt, of Limerick. All had challenged the admissibility of the report of the inspector, Mr Frank Clarke SC, on the affairs of CountyGlen, in a preliminary issue. The question was whether it could be admitted under Section 22 of the Companies Act 1990.

The judge ruled that, by virtue of Section 22, the report was admissible in all the actions on the basis of findings of primary facts. She said the issue in her ruling was the question of what the proper construction of the section was and did not go beyond that.

Following the ruling, the three defending parties indicated they wanted to contest the constitutionality of the section. It reads: "The document purporting to be a copy of the report of an inspector under the provisions of this Act shall be admissible in any civil proceedings as evidence of the facts set out therein without further proof unless the contrary is shown."

Yesterday the judge said CountyGlen had indicated its intention to rely on the report in relation to the facts and also to rely on Section 22. A question had now arisen in the proceedings regarding the validity of the section under the provisions of the Constitution.

The reality of the situation was that when CountyGlen opened, the case and decided to go into evidence producing the report, it would be challenged.

She recognised that there could be a potential prejudice to all the defendants if they were forced to answer allegations in the report, some of which were serious allegations of heinous civil wrongs, and then it was found the section was unconstitutional.

She did not have the jurisdiction to direct that the issue be tried. There was an obligation on the plaintiff to give notice to the Attorney General at this stage she said. It seemed she should hear the AG's point of view. She would give leave to all the parties to bring any motion they wished next Tuesday.