Friday 15 December 2017

O'Brien is named in High Court tax case

Denis O’Brien. Photo: Bloomberg
Denis O’Brien. Photo: Bloomberg

Tim Healy

Businessman Denis O'Brien has no issue about being named in relation to an unsuccessful appeal he took against a Circuit Court decision about a tax case, the High Court has heard.

Ms Justice Iseult O'Malley had adjourned the question of publication of Mr O'Brien's identity as part of her judgment on the matter on Tuesday.

She had asked the parties in the case - Mr O'Brien and the Revenue Commissioners - for their views on the question of anonymity, which all taxpayers are entitled to up to a certain point.

On Tuesday, Revenue argued that while a person is entitled to anonymity in a direct appeal, that was not so when the case came before the High Court. Mr O'Brien's side asked for time to consider the matter.

Yesterday, Martin Hayden SC, for Mr O'Brien, said his client had no application to make in relation to the matter and wanted it dealt with in the normal way.

Ms Justice O'Malley said the name could now be published. She had also considered that there had been a judgment by a High Court colleague in June 2014 related to the same case, in which Mr O'Brien was named.

The case concerned a finding by the Revenue Commissioners that a tax return the businessman made 15 years ago was insufficient. In 2010, an inspector of taxes sought information in relation to Mr O'Brien's tax return for the tax year 1999/2000.


He contested the inspector's right to make such an enquiry and, following an appeal in 2011, an Appeal Commissioner determined Revenue had a lawful right to do so.

Mr O'Brien then exercised his right to ask the Appeal Commissioner to state a case to the High Court on the matter.

He was separately entitled to appeal the decision to the Circuit Court and did so.

Subsequently, a Circuit Court judge ruled in favour of Revenue by refusing to list the appeal for hearing in that court. The judge decided Mr O'Brien had made a choice about which court the matter should be dealt in and was not entitled to pursue the matter in the lower court.

Mr O'Brien argued that the High Court was never seised of the case stated while he had never withdrawn his notice of an appeal to the Circuit Court, thus retaining his option of proceeding in the Circuit Court.

Ms Justice O'Malley agreed with the Circuit Court judge, saying two courts cannot be seised of the same issue at the same time.

Irish Independent

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