High Court decision on Clerys to be challenged

D2 Private and Deirdre Foley appeal against dismissal of challenge against inspectors’ powers

Inspectors were appointed by the Workplace Relations Committee after 460 workers at Clerys, 130 directly employed and 330 indirectly employed, were made redundant in June  2015. Photograph: Frank Miller

Inspectors were appointed by the Workplace Relations Committee after 460 workers at Clerys, 130 directly employed and 330 indirectly employed, were made redundant in June 2015. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

D2 Private and its owner Deirdre Foley have appealed the High Court’s decision to dismiss their challenge against powers used by inspectors investigating the collective redundancies of workers at the Clerys department store.

In his judgment last October, Mr Justice Michael Twomey dismissed their action, which cleared the way for inspectors appointed by the Workplace Relations Committee (WRC) to use items they had seized from the D2 offices in their investigation. In his decision, the judge said he did not see “any basis” for interfering with the investigation or for making orders directing that a laptop and documents seized from the D2 offices at Harcourt Terrace last May be returned.

It has now emerged that investment company D2 and Ms Foley have lodged an appeal against Mr Justice Twomey’s findings with the Court of Appeal. While it can take over a year for appeals to be determined by the three-judge Court of Appeal, it is expected the case will be mentioned before the court some time in the new year.

In their action investment company D2 Private Ltd and Ms Foley had disputed the powers of the inspectors to search the D2 offices and take the materials. Ms Foley and D2 also argued there was no entitlement to enter the office and take the materials. They said they were never the employer of the Clerys workers and the seizure of “privileged and confidential information” from their offices was “wholly unlawful”.

Opposing the action, the WRC and the inspectors argued the decision to enter D2’s offices was a legitimate one made in the public interest.The judge also made a costs order against D2 and Ms Foley in favour of the WRC and the inspectors, which was stayed pending the outcome of an appeal.

The inspectors were appointed by the WRC after 460 workers at Clerys, 130 directly employed staff and 330 indirectly employed in the store, were made redundant on June 12th 2015. The job losses came hours after Clerys was sold to the Natrium joint venture – comprising Cheyne Capital Management and D2 – by its previous owners, the US Gordon Brothers group.

As part of their investigation, the inspectors, accompanied by gardaí, removed items including a laptop computer and a number of documents, including invoices, from D2’s offices.