Court dismisses bid to prevent AIB share sale
Businessman sought a declaration that proposed sale is contrary to common good
On Wednesday afternoon, the Court of Appeal dismissed a businessman’s appeal and upheld the High Court’s decision on AIB’s share sale. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien
The Court of Appeal has dismissed a businessman’s bid to prevent the sale of shares held by the Government in AIB bank.
Vincent O’Donoghue brought his case against AIB Plc, the Minister for Finance, the Government, Ireland and the Attorney General.
Mr O’Donoghue, with an address at Church Street, Dublin 7, had sought a declaration the proposed sale is contrary to the common good, contrary to article 6 of the Constitution and unlawful. In the High Court earlier this month, Mr Justice Paul Gilligan dismissed his action on grounds including it was frivolous, vexatious and bound to fail.
Mr O’Donoghue had failed to show any legal impediment requiring the State to hold on to its current level of shareholding with AIB, the High Court held.
The court also dismissed Mr O’Donoghue’s application for an injunction preventing the defendants taking any steps to dispose all or any parts of the State’s shareholding in AIB pending the final outcome of his action.
Mr O’Donoghue appealed those decisions to the Court of Appeal.
On Wednesday afternoon, the president of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice Sean Ryan, Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan and Mr Justice Gerard Hogan unanimously dismissed Mr O’Donoghue’s appeal and upheld the High Court’s decision.
Giving the court’s decision, Mr Justice Hogan said what Mr Donoghue sought to challenge, the Government selling its shareholding in AIB, was “a political controversy” and therefore “non-justiciable”.
The courts have no role to play in the State’s “macroeconomic policies” and no cause of action had been shown against either the State or AIB, he added.
The action must be struck out, he ruled.
The court also ruled AIB and the State were entitled to an order against Mr O’Donoghue for their legal costs.
In his action, Mr O’Donoghue claimed AIB’s “long and sorry history of catastrophic governance failures” demonstrates the bank is “incapable of operating in a lawful, responsible and compliant manner”.
If returned to private ownership, AIB will “only serve one master” and will have the sole focus of “relentlessly pursuing profits” for mostly foreign shareholders, he also claimed.