Friday 23 August 2019

RTE gets green light to air report into the rented accommodation sector, as High Court action is withdrawn

The High Court, Dublin
The High Court, Dublin

Aodhan O'Faolain

A High Court challenge against RTE's plans to air a report into the rented accommodation sector in Ireland has been withdrawn.

The action was brought by the Green Effect Technology Limited T/a Global Academics, and its directors Mr Jason Orr and Mr Joshua Cantwell against the national broadcaster and journalist Barry O'Kelly regarding tonight planned broadcast on the RTE Investigates programme.

The company had sought an injunction preventing restraining both RTE and Mr O'Kelly from broadcasting or publishing anything about the applicants, their business, their economic relations and any references to their property until all investigations into him have been concluded by all the relevant authorities. 

The application, which RTE and Mr O'Kelly opposed, was due to be heard before Mr Justice Paul Gilligan at the High Court on Thursday.

However shortly before the judge was set to view the programme Pat O'Connell SC for the plaintiffs said that after considering a sworn statement from Mr O'Kelly in reply to their action his clients were withdrawing their action.

Paul O'Higgins SC, appearing with Joe Jeffers Bl, for both RTE and Mr O'Kelly said his clients were entitled to their legal costs on the highest scale possible on grounds including that RTE had gone to great lengths to respond to the injunction application made on the eve of the broadcast.

Mr Justice Gilligan, in agreeing to strike out the proceedings agreed that the public purse should not be put to any expense awarded RTE its costs on the solicitor-client basis.

The Judge noted that the applicants had delayed until the day before RTE's broadcast before bringing their application.

He also noted that the defendants failed to avail of offer to discuss the proposed broadcast with RTE in early October.

The applicant's lawyers had also informed RTE in mid October that they intended bring injunction proceedings but did not do so at that particular time.

On Wednesday evening the Judge granted the applicants permission, on an ex parte basis, to serve short notice of the proceedings on RTE and Mr O'Kelly.

The company previously told the High Court that it provides services to foreign students visiting Ireland such as information and orientation and language services.

This the company and the directors had sought the injunction claimed the broadcast completely undermine their rights, including their right to privacy and to earn a living.

They also claimed the broadcast will portray them as being unquestionably guilty of certain offences in respect of a property it has used as an office and had previously used for temporary student accommodation at 79 Old Kilmainham Road, in Dublin.

They had also asked the court for an order restraining the broadcast until the completion of investigations by the relevant authorities.

RTE denied the claims and argued that there were no grounds for the court to grant an injunction against it.

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