Thursday, January 28, 2021

Ann O'Loughlin

The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement wants to appoint five additional persons to aid in the examination of documents seized from the FAI, over which claims of legal privilege are made.

Last November barrister Niall Nolan Bl 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 the FAI.

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

Files seized

Some 280,000 files, were seized by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement as part of its criminal investigation into certain matters at the FAI.
Of those legal privilege is being claimed over some 3800 documents, the court has heard.

At Thursday’s sitting of the High Court, Kerida Naidoo SC for the ODCEtold Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds his client was making several proposals aimed at speeding up the process,

Counsel said the ODCE was suggesting that five more persons be appointed, in addition to Mr Nolan so that the process could be completed in a matter of weeks.

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

Counsel said that the ODCE also had proposals as to how the report would be formatted.

No objections from FAI

Mr Nolan and the FAI, represented by Brian Gageby Bl, said it had no objections to the additional persons being appointed.

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

Ms Justice Reynolds adjourned the matter to a date next month to allow the ODCE set out, and the other sides fully consider all of the corporate watchdog’s proposals.

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 Irish soccer’s governing body.

Inspecting the files

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 corporate watchdog as part of its probe.

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 if 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 no concluded due to factors including the volume of documentation involved and the Covid 19 pandemic.

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