Corporate watchdog wants five more people to help examine FAI documents

ODCE seized 280,000 files over 3,800 of which legal privilege is being claimed

The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement wants to appoint five additional people to help examine documents seized from the Football Association of Ireland over which claims of legal privilege are made.

Last November, barrister Niall Nolan was appointed as the independent person to examine and review materials over which claims of legal privilege are made by former FAI chief executive John Delaney and by the FAI.

Due to the large volume of documents involved, it was proposed extra resources be made available to speed up the process.

Some 280,000 files were seized by the ODCE as part of its criminal investigation into certain matters at the FAI. Legal privilege is being claimed over some 3,800 documents.


Speeding process

At the High Court on Thursday, Kerida Naidoo SC, for the ODCE, said his client was making several proposals aimed at speeding up the process, The ODCE was suggesting that five more people be appointed, in addition to Mr Nolan, so the process could be completed in a matter of weeks.

Mr Nolan has been engaged to prepare a report for the court to aid Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds in ultimately determining which of the material is privileged and which is not.

Counsel said the ODCE also had proposals as to how the report would be formatted. Mr Nolan and the FAI, represented by Brian Gageby, had no objections to the additional people being appointed.

Paul McGarry, for Mr Delaney, said he had concerns about certain matters being proposed by the ODCE.

Ms Justice Reynolds adjourned the matter to next month to allow the ODCE set out, and the other sides fully consider, the proposals.

Governing body

The inspection arises out of documents, covering a period of 17 years, seized by the ODCE from the FAI’s offices in February 2020 as part of the director’s investigation into the governing body. Arising out of the seizure, the High Court has been asked by the ODCE, in an application where the FAI is the respondent and Mr Delaney is a notice party, to determine if some of those files are covered by legal professional privilege. Any document deemed to be covered by legal privilege cannot be used by the ODCE as part of its investigation.

Through his lawyers, the UK-based Mr Delaney has been allowed inspect the files, including thousands of emails, to see which ones are private to him or covered by professional legal privilege and cannot be used by the ODCE as part of its investigation.

The matter first came before the courts shortly after the documents were seized last February and has been adjourned on several occasions. While timetables for the completion of the inspection were agreed, the matter has not concluded due to factors including the volume of documentation involved and the Covid-19 pandemic.