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Saturday 3 December 2016

Clerys owner loses claim over documents seizure

D2 Private’s Deirdre Foley. Pic: Collins Courts
D2 Private’s Deirdre Foley. Pic: Collins Courts

The High Court has dismissed a challenge brought against powers used by inspectors investigating the collective redundancies of workers at the iconic Clerys Department Store.

Mr Justice Michael Twomey dismissed proceedings brought by investment company D2 Private Ltd and its director and owner Deirdre Foley after inspectors appointed by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) entered the firm's offices at Harcourt Terrace Dublin in May.

The inspectors were appointed after 460 workers lost their jobs on June 12, 2015.

The workers were made redundant hours after Clery's was sold to a joint venture called Natrium, a joint venture made up of Cheyne Capital Management and D2 by its previous owners, the US Gordon Brothers group.

Investigation

As part of their investigation, inspectors, accompanied by members of An Garda Siochana, removed items, including a laptop computer and a number of documents and invoices from D2's offices. Following the seizure, Ms Foley and D2 brought proceedings claiming the inspectors and the WRC were not entitled to enter the office and take the materials.

They claimed the seizure of "privileged and confidential information" from D2's office by the inspectors was "wholly unlawful". They said they were never employers of Clery's workers.

A company called OCS Operations Ltd was at all times the employer and the decision to make the workers redundant was made independently of D2 and Ms Foley, they argued.

The action was against the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, who has responsibility for the Commission. They opposed the application, and argued the challenge should be dismissed.

They argued entering D2's offices was legitimate and in the public interest.

In his judgment dismissing the action, Mr Justice Twomey said that the court "did not see any basis for interfering" with the investigation.

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