Former Irish Press shareholder loses challenge against accountancy body

A former shareholder in the Irish Press company has failed in a challenge to a refusal of the accountancy supervisory body to order an inquiry surrounding his complaints about the auditors of the firm before it went into liquidation.

Neal Duggan, a son of late Irish tycoon Paddy Duggan, brought High Court proceedings against the Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA).

Mr Duggan claimed the IAASA failed, among other things, to provide adequate reasons as to why it refused to initiate an inquiry into the conduct of how two complaints he made about Irish Press auditors, Deloitte, were dealt with by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ireland.

The Irish Press group ceased publication in 1995 with the loss of 600 jobs and was voluntarily wound up in 2017 after its liabilities exceeded its assets.

Mr Justice Garrett Simons dismissed his application for a judicial review of the IAASA decision.

The authority had provided him with "ample reasons" for its decision not to initiate a statutory inquiry under the Companies Act 2014, the judge said.

The decision not to initiate the inquiry was lawfully made at IAASA board level, he said. The board was not obliged to invoke a procedure to set up the inquiry as the appointment of a preliminary inquiry committee is discretionary, he said.

He also rejected claims by Mr Duggan the board took into account irrelevant considerations in reaching its decision.

It was entirely inconsistent with the broad nature of its statutory discretion for Mr Duggan to suggest it would be outside its powers to have regard to the significance or gravity of the complaints.

Similarly, the board was entitled to consider whether the circumstances warrant the initiation of a full inquiry or whether the matter is better dealt with by way of supervisory action, he said.

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