Former taxing master seeks to quash search warrant behind his arrest

Gardaí questioned Jim Flynn for two days in investigation into alleged money laundering

Former High Court taxing master Jim Flynn is taking a legal action aimed at quashing a warrant for the search and seizure of confidential documents from his law office after his arrest last month.

Mr Flynn was arrested on March 4th and questioned for two days by officers from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau. A search was carried out at his offices in a Garda investigation into alleged money laundering and his mobile phone was seized.

He was released on March 5th with a report pending to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The arrest and search arises from the Central Bank’s refusal to exchange a sum of damaged bank notes totalling €4,400 from one of Mr Flynn’s clients, which is the subject of separate High Court proceedings, until the conclusion of a Garda investigation.


In those proceedings, Mr Flynn's client took the legal action after the Central Bank withheld the notes on the basis that they had been "intentionally damaged". The client had claimed that the notes had been damaged by being placed in a furnace with plastic containers in an art workshop.

The client had provided the cash as a fee payment to Mr Flynn’s practice JT Flynn & Co and they were submitted to the Central Bank on April 19th, 2019. The Central Bank had earlier exchanged other damaged banknotes totalling €4,950 submitted on February 19th, 2019.

Search warrant

The Central Bank referred the matter to the Garda. The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau, in seeking the search warrant for Mr Flynn’s offices in Dublin, claimed that there were reasonable grounds for suspecting evidence of a money-laundering offence was to be found.

Mr Flynn was a High Court taxing master, an independent court officer who assesses disputed legal costs of a party in a case, from 1993 to 2011.

His solicitors, Belfast law firm KRW Law, lodged judicial review proceedings on March 30th on behalf of the retired taxing master looking to quash the search warrant.

Mr Flynn is also seeking High Court orders for the return of Mr Flynn’s mobile phone seized in the search along with the information relied upon to seek the search order from the District Court.

In the application to the court, Mr Flynn and his law practice claim that the March 3rd search warrant issued by the District Court permitted “an egregious intrusion into and violation of the fundamental principle of lawyer/client privilege” and was “an attack” on his privacy rights.

No defence has been filed in the case against the District Court, the Garda, DPP and the State.

‘Spurious investigation’

Mr Flynn's solicitor, Kevin Winters, is seeking to halt what he calls a "spurious investigation" and said that there was "absolutely no basis" for his client's arrest and interrogation, particularly given that the issues remain subject to litigation before the courts that is under appeal.

“Our client had no opportunity to query the legal basis for the warrant at the time it was sought, in violation of his right to due process,” he said.

He claims that “other less intrusive options such as an application for a production order seeking access to files were not sought.”

Mr Winters said Mr Flynn's case against his arrest was similar to that taken by Belfast journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey in Northern Ireland who were subjected to unlawful searches and arrests by the Durham police and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

The search warrant granted was “broad enough to include every single file in Mr Flynn’s office and shatters the confidential lawyer/client privilege in every respect,” he said.

He described the decision to apply for a search warrant of a “well-respected senior member” of the legal profession as “draconian” and that it raised “serious questions” about ongoing legal proceedings involving the Central Bank and the Garda.

“The application for judicial review highlights investigative bias, exemplified by the selective failure to put exonerating material to Mr Flynn during his interview,” he said.

In November 2019, a High Court judge ruled that a proposed personal insolvency arrangement for Mr Flynn, who at the time had debts of just over €5 million, did not meet a condition necessary for the court to consider whether or not to approve it.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times