D2 and owner Deirdre Foley told to pay costs in Clerys case

D2 challenged power of inspectors to search offices for evidence related to redundancies

 

D2 Private and its owner Deirdre Foley must pay the legal costs of their failed challenge to the powers of inspectors investigating collective redundancies at Clerys department store, the High Court has ruled.

The ruling was made on Tuesday by Mr Justice Michael Twomey whose judgment last month dismissed their action, which had disputed the powers of the inspectors to search D2 offices and take possession of a laptop and documents.

The case was heard over five days in the High Court and the legal costs are expected to run into six figures.

Investigation

In his judgment, the judge said he saw no basis for interfering with the investigation or for making orders directing the return of a laptop and documents seized from the D2 offices at Harcourt Terrace last May.

D2 Private Ltd and Ms Foley had disputed the powers of the inspectors to search the D2 offices and take the materials.

The inspectors were appointed by the Workplace Relations Commission (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 documents, including invoices, from D2’s offices.

On Tuesday, Shane Murphy SC sought costs of the inspectors and WRC.

Remy Farrell SC, for D2 and Ms Foley, said his clients could not oppose such an order but asked for a stay in the event of an appeal against the court’s judgment.

Appeal

Mr Justice Twomey made the costs order in favour of the WRC and inspectors and granted a stay on that order in the event of an appeal. The court was not told whether the judgment will be appealed.

No order for costs was made in respect of Natrium Ltd, a notice party to the proceedings.

In their proceedings against the WRC and inspectors, Ms Foley and D2 argued there was no entitlement to enter the office and take the materials on grounds including they were never the employer of the Clerys workers.

The WRC and inspectors argued the decision to enter D2’s offices was legitimately made in the public interest.