Court gives go-ahead for Lynn video evidence
The High Court has agreed to allow fugitive solicitor Michael Lynn to give evidence via video-link from Budapest in a case being taken by one of his former clients against First Active over the collapse of a building group.
The court allowed an application taken by the Cunningham Group against the bank to hear the evidence from Mr Lynn, who has refused to return to Ireland to give evidence in person because there is an outstanding High Court warrant for his arrest arising from an action taken by the Law Society.
Mr Justice Frank Clarke said it was “hardly surprising” that Mr Lynn did not want to return to testify in person given the warrant over his contempt of court for failing to show up for a court appearance last year and that the solicitor could be the subject of Garda enquiries if he returned.
The judge permitted Mr Lynn’s evidence to be heard by video-link, saying it could have relevance on his judgement in the case taken by the Cunningham Group, which is owned by Galway builder Brian Cunningham, against the bank.
He said it would be “disproportionate” not to allow Mr Lynn’s video-link evidence for the Cunningham Group because Mr Lynn, one of its witnesses, was unwilling to travel to Ireland.
The court was told previously that Mr Lynn has said he is prepared to give evidence in Budapest by live video-link. He is reported to have travelled to Hungary, Bulgaria and Portugal in recent months.
Mr Cunningham is suing First Active through his building group over the bank’s decision to appoint a receiver to the group in 2003 over debts of more than €30 million. Mr Lynn represented the group prior to the receivership.
The judge said that “far from being a close associate of Mr Cunningham’s”, Mr Lynn had in fact been at odds with his client.
Counsel for Cunningham had argued that film director Roman Polanski had been allowed to testify via video-link from Paris in a successful libel action in London because he feared that if he returned to England, he would be arrested and extradited to the US where he is wanted on charges of having sex with an underage girl dating back to 1977.
Counsel for the bank had argued that to allow Mr Lynn to give evidence would be “an affront to the public conscience” as the outstanding arrest warrant was issued by the court, from which video-link order was sought, because of his refusal to come attend and give evidence to that court.
The judge said this action was different from the Polanski case as Mr Lynn was neither directly or indirectly involved in the Cunningham case as either a plaintiff or defendant, and was “purely a witness”.
The judge said Mr Lynn had attracted “public notoriety” as a result of separate legal actions taken against him over his business dealings.
Mr Justice Frank Clarke said Mr Lynn’s evidence could be heard by the court through a court-appointed commissioner sitting in another country but said that video-link evidence was more convenient, and less costly and time-consuming.
The case has been listed for mention in court again on September 19th. Mr Lynn’s evidence is expected to be heard shortly after the case resumes on October 7th.