A High Court judge has ruled that extracts of documents the FAI has given to the ODCE are covered by professional legal privilege and cannot be used as part of the probe into certain matters concerning the association.
In a motion, brought under the 2014 Companies Act, the ODCE asked the High Court to determine if certain parts of documents provided to it by the FAI and its auditors Deloitte Ireland LLP are legally privileged.
Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds ruled that the contents of some 14 passages contained in a total of 16 documents provided by the FAI and Deloitte contain legally privileged material and cannot be used in the investigation.
Certain contents of two other documents did not attract legal privilege, the Judge added.
The Judge ordered that the passages where legal privilege does apply are to be redacted to ensure they remain unseen by the ODCE as part of its investigation.
The material relates to 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 FAI had claimed privilege over certain extracts of documents generated out of these meetings, to protect its position against third parties and not the ODCE.
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The judge said professional legal privilege applied in regards to parts of the minutes referring to legal advice the board received from the FAI’s interim CEO Ms Rea Walshe in February 2016 and November 2016.
The advice refers to an agreement with a prospective sponsor and of the FAI’s potential liability over possible and ongoing legal actions against it.
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, the Judge also found.
Legal advice from Ms Walsh concerning an application from one of its members for a licence in January 2018, and a proposed litigation strategy in February 2018 are also privileged.
Similarly, sections of minutes of the FAI board of management meetings held in March 2019, February 2019, April 2018, and an updated untitled three pape document which refers to legal advice from A&L Goodbody solicitors are also privileged.
Legal privilege also applies in regards to extracts of a small number of documents provided by Deloitte, the court held.
The Judge found legal privilege did not apply to a section of the minutes of an FAI Domestic Committee meeting conducted on December 5th, 2017.
Similarly, the Judge said that parts of the minutes of the FAI Board of Management meeting on April 15th 2019, which refers to a meeting with A&L Goodbody but didn’t disclose any legal advice did not attract any privilege.
There was no order made for the legal costs of the application.