Members of bankrupt businessman Sean Quinn’s family are not entitled to better disclosure of documents and materials by a bank they are suing over the alleged unlawful issuing of €2.3bn in loans to family companies, a High Court judge ruled.
The Quinns had claimed the system of revealing the material, including the contents of phone calls to the former Anglo Irish Bank, was deficient. This meant they could have no confidence in the overall process of disclosure being provided in advance of their legal action, they said.
Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), Anglo’s successor, disputed their claims and said the cost of going through material for the purpose of discovery in advance of the case had already been €1.55m.
Mr Quinn’s wife Patricia, and the couple’s five children, are suing IBRC and its special liquidator Kieran Wallace, alleging Anglo unlawfully issued the loans during 2007 and 2008. Sean Quinn senior and two former senior Quinn Group executives, Dara O’Reilly and Liam McCaffrey are third parties in the case.
Yesterday, Ms Justice Caroline Costello ruled IBRC had made “a conscientious attempt” to comply with a July 2012 High Court order for full discovery of materials.
While there were errors and omissions, IBRC had corrected those and it was very far from being the case that the bank was endeavouring to avoid giving discovery or that there was a wilful refusal to provide information.
The judge said the main complaint about inadequate disclosure related to audio recordings of phone calls to the bank on the 247 lines going into it.
Karyn Harty, a solicitor for IBRC, had stated it had cost €600,000 alone to retrieve and review 18,000 recordings and it would not be feasible to review some 2.1 million calls for a two year period suggested by the Quinns, the judge said.
It was argued it would take 10 people working 10 hour days five years to review those calls.
Aoife Quinn, on behalf of the Quinn family, disputed this and said they had established that the latest technology would allow for a speedy and cost effective search of the calls.
Ms Justice Costello said the return for the effort required to do such an exercise, both in time and money, “would be grossly disproportionate to the potential return”, she said.
IBRC had made “vast discovery” already and it seemed completely unnecessary to have further discovery of recordings to identify more individuals who may have been involved in events which are the subject of this legal action, she said.
The Quinns have, or will have, more than sufficient materials with which to assess witnesses they may wish to speak to or call at trial which was one of the reasons they (Quinns) said they needed better discovery, she said.
In relation to 300 more documents in IBRC’S possession which the Quinns seek to inspect, the judge said the bank had indicated it intended to locate and produce them. If this is not done in time for the trial, their application in relation to them can be renewed, she said.
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