FAI and ODCE reach agreement over document assessment by judge

The FAI and the ODCE have agreed on a methodology on how certain documents given by the association to the director are to be assessed to see if they are legally privileged or not.

FAI and ODCE reach agreement over document assessment by judge

The FAI and the ODCE have agreed on a methodology on how certain documents given by the association to the director are to be assessed to see if they are legally privileged or not.

The ODCE has asked the court to examine the documents as part of its probe into "certain matters" concerning the association.

The applications, made under the 2014 Companies Act, came before Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds at the High Court today.

The Judge will now decide whether or not the documents are legally privileged and cannot be used as part of the ODCE investigation.

The material at the centre of the application is contained in the minutes of several meetings the FAI's board of management held between February 2016 and March 2019.

Kerida Naidoo SC for the ODCE said that the sides had "engaged most constructively" and had agreed on a methodology as to how the applications can proceed.

Counsel said that the court was being asked to consider a relatively small number of extracts contained in two sets of documents, which the FAI deem to be legally privileged.

Counsel said it was hoped that the matter could be disposed of following a short hearing before the court.

Counsel added that the ODCE may have to make two further similar applications to the court in respect of documentation that may be relevant to its investigation.

One of those potential applications would be against a third party, counsel added.

Shane Murphy SC for the FAI said his client was satisfied with the arrangement arrived at with the ODCE in respect of the documentation.

The material under consideration by the judge was provided by the FAI to the ODCE following a request in April.

The Judge welcomed that progress had been made between the parties.

To ensure that matters progress expeditiously, the Judge said that any other applications in respect of other documents should be made to the court "as soon as possible."

The FAI claims privilege over certain extracts of documents it has given to the ODCE. It has made the claim in order to protect the FAI's position against third parties and not the ODCE.

The documents sought include the minutes of all meetings of the FAI Board of Directors and Committees of the board for the period January 1, 2016, to March 21, 2019, inclusive.

The items which the FAI claims privilege over includes legal advice the board received from the FAI's interim CEO Ms Rea Walshe in February 2016 over an agreement with a prospective sponsor and in November that year of the FAI's potential liability over possible and ongoing legal actions against it.

It also seeks to have legal advice the board received regarding an internal investigation and the rights of affected parties to bring appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in June 2017.

Other matters it seeks to claim privilege over are legal advice from Ms Walshe regarding disciplinary matters in December 2017 and legal advice concerning an application from one of its members concerning an application for a licence in January 2018.

One of the issues previously raised by the ODCE was whether Ms Walshe could be considered as the association's internal legal advisor at the relevant time.

This was due to the number of different roles she has held with the FAI since she was appointed as the FAI's head of Legal and Licensing in 2014.

Mr Naidoo said it was now accepted by the ODCE that Ms Walshe, a qualified solicitor, was the association's legal advisor at the relevant times.

The Judge, who welcomed the clarification in respect of Ms Walshe, adjourned the matter to a date in late July.

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