INM has more to lose than DCC did from appointment of inspectors

Members of ‘INM 19’ preparing to sue INM in relation to suspected data breach

Leslie Buckley, who  INM has threatened to hold responsible for any damage to the company caused by his alleged actions while chairman. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Leslie Buckley, who INM has threatened to hold responsible for any damage to the company caused by his alleged actions while chairman. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The last company to host a High Court inspector was energy business DCC a decade ago. Maybe it has some tips for Independent News & Media (INM), which, it was confirmed this week, will soon be welcoming a pair of inspectors following an application by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.

There is, however, a critical difference between the wider circumstances of the DCC appointment and the situation in which INM now finds itself. Unlike DCC, INM is facing a potential whirlwind of civil cases directly related to the matters being examined by the inspectors, whose findings can be used in court.

When the ODCE sought the appointment of High Court inspectors to DCC, the matter, concerning allegations of insider dealing, had already been litigated by DCC and Fyffes all the way to the Supreme Court.

The case was then finally settled for €37 million, a few weeks before the ODCE came knocking.

INM, meanwhile, may as well build an extension on to its Talbot Street headquarters to house all the lawyers it will need for the expected bonanza of civil cases coming down the track over a suspected data breach, which is one of the matters to be examined by the inspectors.

INM 19

It is believed several members of the so-called INM 19, the group who had their personal data allegedly improperly accessed in a secret operation overseen by the company’s former chairman Leslie Buckley, are limbering up to sue INM. The possibility of this happening was remarked upon in the High Court judgment handed down on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, INM has already commenced its own civil action against Buckley, and in correspondence it threatened to hold him responsible for any damage to the company caused by his alleged actions while chairman.

Lawyers for all sides – INM, Buckley and the INM 19 – will, therefore, be watching closely to see what findings the inspectors make in relation to the data incident. For those finding are admissable as evidence in a civil case.

If the High Court inspectors make findings against other individuals who, as of yet, have not been interviewed or queried by the ODCE, then things could get even more interesting.

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