herald

Thursday 17 October 2019

Corporate watchdog goes to High Court over FAI documents

Former chief John Delaney
Former chief John Delaney

Legal proceedings have been initiated by the corporate watchdog in connection with matters at the FAI.

The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) wants the High Court to determine if documents given to it by the football association contain privileged legal material.

Legal professional privilege attaches to communications between a lawyer and cannot be disclosed without the permission of the client, in this case the FAI.

The move by the ODCE comes in the wake of weeks of controversy over FAI finances and a €100,000 "bridging loan" given to it by former chief executive John Delaney.

Mr Delaney has stepped aside from his role as executive vice president while an independent investigation is ongoing.

Honorary secretary Michael Cody and honorary treasurer Eddie Murray both voluntarily resigned from the FAI board last month.

It was known the ODCE was looking into matters, but the High Court application represents a serious escalation.

The proceedings were initiated on Thursday, when a solicitor for the ODCE filed an affidavit in the High Court.

Lawyers for the ODCE appeared before Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds yesterday.

They said the application, under the Companies Act 2014, related to certain material sought from the FAI, which was supplied earlier this week.

Lawyers said the application related to "potentially legally privileged material".

In a sworn statement to the court, the ODCE told how on April 19 it issued a notification requiring the FAI to provide copies of books and documents.

The documents sought included the minutes of all meetings of the FAI board and committees of the board for the period January 1, 2016, to March 21, 2019, inclusive.

Claim

On Wednesday, the FAI produced the documentation, but it also placed several documents in a separate container, which it seeks to claim privilege over.

The ODCE now wants the High Court to determine if this material is privileged legal material.

An FAI spokesman said: "The FAI is aware of the ODCE application and acknowledges this is part of their ongoing process. The FAI continues to co-operate fully with the ODCE."

A spokesman for the ODCE said he was not in a position to comment at this stage.

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