Thursday 29 September 2016

High Court action between RTE and Denis O'Brien adjourned to next week

Aodhan O'Faolain

Published 05/06/2015 | 12:38

Businessman Denis O'Brien
Businessman Denis O'Brien
Denis O'Brien

The action between RTE, businessman Denis O'Brien and IBRC over the proposed broadcast of confidential details of Mr O'Brien's personal banking arrangements with the bank, has been adjourned to next week.

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The matter was briefly mentioned by before Mr Justice Donald Binchy today, who agreed to adjourn the matter to next Wednesday.

David Holland SC for RTÉ said intents to raise a number of issues, however his client did not receive a sworn statement from the other side until late on Thursday and needed time to consider it.  

All sides were now happy for the matter to go back to Wednesday.

Lawyers for the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation told the court that legal advice given to the bank arising out of its banker/customer relationship with Mr O'Brien was covered by absolute privilege.

Michael Collins SC for IBRC said they did not have any reason to believe that legal advice given to the bank would be mentioned in the Dáil, but he said if it was it mentioned, the speech would not be covered by absolute privilege.

Mr Justice Donald Binchy said he echoed the sentiment and hoped it would not occur. However, such a situation if it occurred was out of the control of anyone in the courtroom.

Earlier this week the Judge issued its written judgment giving its reasons for granting an injunction to Denis O'Brien and the bank against RTÉ preventing it from broadcasting details of Mr O'Brien's financial arrangements with the bank. 

He said he had taken into account not just the exact text of Independent TD Catherine Murphy's speech to the Dáil last Thursday but also the meaning of what she said. Mr Justice Binchy also said the redactions related to issues that could not be reasonably inferred from what Ms Murphy said in the Dáil.

The Judge said he granted the injunction on grounds including  that "no evidence" of "a failure of corporate governance" at the bank has been established

While RTE had made no allegations of wrongdoing against the businessman it had raised issues concerning transactions involving the bank which are alleged to have been poorly executed by the bank.

However no evidence of a substantive nature was presented to the court that would allow it conclude there had been a failure of corporate governance.

The Judge found both IBRC and Mr O'Brien  had, based on the evidence put before him established a convincing case that they would succeed at a full hearing of the matter. It was also accepted damages would not be an adequate remedy for Mr O'Brien, who claimed his losses if details were broadcast would be "incalculable."

After the injunction was granted both the broadcaster and the Irish Times Newspapers sought clarification on whether they could publish details of a speech made by TD in the Dail concerning the businessman's arrangements with IBRC. Mr O'Brien disputes the accuracy of Deputy Murphy's comments.

The Judge told the could that it was never intended the injunction could prevent the fair reporting of comments made in the Dail.

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