John Delaney fails in High Court bid to have case heard in private

Former FAI chief executive claims legal privilege in case over documents seized by ODCE

John Delaney sought the order over his concerns that media reports of the action would result in legally privileged information being wrongfully put into the public domain.  Photograph: Laura Hutton

John Delaney sought the order over his concerns that media reports of the action would result in legally privileged information being wrongfully put into the public domain. Photograph: Laura Hutton

 

The High Court has ruled that proceedings brought arising out of the seizure of documents from the FAI last year are to remain in public for the time being.

An application by former FAI chief executive John Delaney for the proceedings to be held in camera, meaning the media could no longer report on them, can be revisited at a later stage if needs be, Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds said.

Mr Delaney sought the order over his concerns that media reports of the action would result in legally privileged information being wrongfully put into the public domain.

His application was opposed by a number of media outlets.

After hearing submissions from the parties on Tuesday, Ms Justice Reynolds said while the proceedings remain in public, there may well be a need to revisit the in-camera issue at a later stage.

She said there was nothing before the court that would allow the court have the action held in private.

The case arisings out of the seizure of some 280,000 files covering a 17-year period, by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement as part of its criminal investigation into certain matters at the FAI.

In proceedings brought by the ODCE against the FAI, where Mr Delaney is a notice party, the judge has been asked to determine which of that material is covered by legal privilege, and cannot be used by the ODCE as part of its inquiry.

To assist with this process barristers Niall Nolan Bl and Patrick Mair Bl were appointed as independent persons to review materials over which claims of legal privilege are made by Mr Delaney.

The assessors will prepare a report for the court to help it determine what material is privileged.

Claims of legal professional privilege have been made in respect of approximately 1,000 documents by the FAI and over 3,500 documents by Mr Delaney.

The case, which has come before the courts on many occasions over since February 2020, was adjourned to a date in April.