Hearing on issues between ODCE and John Delaney may not take place for months

A hearing on the use of documents related to former Football Federation of Ireland (FAI) chief executive John Delaney by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) is unlikely to take place for several months.

The action of the High Court is for all outstanding matters to determine whether documents relating to Mr. Delaney fall under legal professional prerogative and cannot be accessed by ODCE.

On Tuesday Ms. Leonie Reynolds, who has been dealing with issues arising out of the seizure of 280,000 documents by the corporate watchdog in February 2020 from the offices of the FAI for nearly two years, expressed the court’s strong desire to bring the matter to a conclusion.

The judge gave directions regarding exchange of legal documents relating to all remaining issues between the parties and adjourned the matter till March end.

The judge said he was expected to be able to fix a date for hearing at that stage, when all outstanding issues relating to claims of legal professional privilege (LPP) can be placed before the court.

However, due to pressure on the court, the judge said he was not aware that there was sufficient time available for hearing the matter during the current legal period which ends next on April 8.

During the brief hearing, the judge was also told that Mr. Delaney is to be represented by the solicitor’s new firm, Clark Hill, a Detroit, US-based international law firm.

Jack Tacharakian BL for Mr Delaney said the new representation arose following a merger between his client’s current representative solicitor Eames Solicitor and the firm of Clark Hill, which has offices in Ireland, Mexico and the US.

Despite the change, the same legal team will continue to represent Mr. Delaney in proceedings with ODCE, the lawyer said.

The judge, noting that there was no objection to the change by ODCE, directed that a formal notice indicating that new counsel for Mr. Delaney was not on record, be done as soon as possible.

The documentation was taken at the center of the dispute between the parties as part of a cache of documents covering a 17-year period that was seized in February 2020.

ODCE intends to use the material as part of its ongoing criminal investigation.

Any document deemed to be covered by the LPP cannot be used by ODCE as part of the investigation of certain cases in the FAI.

After review by two courts, recommendations of independent barristers were given to the court as to which documents should be covered by the LPP.

Among the issues yet to be determined in the proceedings are applications to review ODCE’s recommendations that some 1,100 confiscated documents belonging to Mr. Delaney be covered by the LPP.

Mr Delaney claims that these documents give him some legal advice regarding the litigation he has had with the association over the years, and is therefore covered by the LPP.

ODCE claims that the LPP may not apply to many of these documents.

When the matter was first before the court, the judge agreed with ODCE that Mr. Delaney had failed to comply with the court’s order to provide details about the trial in which he was involved.

Mr Delaney claims that despite best efforts, neither he nor his lawyers have had enough time to provide the court with the necessary information.

He also claims that he needs copies of certain documents from ODCE to fully comply with the order, but that ODCE refused to provide such copies to him.

Mr Delaney also dismissed ODCE’s claims that they delayed the process.

The ODCE rejected Mr Delaney’s arguments that he is entitled to copies of the documents or that he has insufficient time to provide the material under consideration to the court.