Justice Donal Binchy, in the High Court, has refused to lift an injunction preventing RTÉ from reporting information about Denis O’Brien and IBRC.
RTÉ’s Vivienne Traynor told Seán O’Rourke earlier:
“RTÉ had argued there was no point anymore in this injunction, that everything was in the public domain and the effect of the order continuing was like holding a sword of Damocles over RTE and the entire media.
The judge [Donald Binchy] disagreed, he said today in this 11-page judgement that the court was being asked to lift orders in relation to documentation and information which was unknown and which may or may not already be in the public domain.
Now lawyers for Denis O’Brien were, he noted, no longer objecting to the broadcast or publication of the proposed script because much of that is in the public domain but lawyers for IBRC say some of the script contains legal advice and they were claiming legal professional privilege over that but, firstly, Mr Justice Binchy said that the court was also being asked to recognise that RTÉ had acted responsibly to date and to accept that there was no reason why it would not continue to do so.
And he said that it was indeed the case that RTE had acted responsibly and it was reasonable for the broadcaster to make this application. But notwithstanding the developments which he described as dramatic, he said it did not follow that the court order should not be continued in relation to information that has not yet come into the public domain. ”
He said, on the contrary, the rationale of the original decision of the court still applies in relation to any documentation or information that has not yet come into the public domain and, interestingly Seán, he also said that the defendant, that’s RTÉ, continues to hold confidential information and documents belonging to the plaintiffs, that’s Denis O’Brien and IBRC, and has declined to identify that documentation, in its possession and he said that the plaintiffs had established a convincing case that this documentation is the subject of a right of confidence and if the case proceeds to a full trial and if the plaintiffs succeed, he said, they will obtain orders requiring the return of that documentation aswell as permanent injunctions regarding publication of that information.”
[Denis O’Brien’s lawyers] were saying that, while the information contained in the proposed script was now in the public domain that RTÉ was still in possession of other information and did not say what that information was and they said that the terms of the injunction went beyond simply what the proposed script was.
And the judge agreed and said that the plaintiff shouldn’t have to rely on the good intentions of RTÉ and it wasn’t unreasonable to infer that RTÉ wanted to leave open the possibility that it might want to publish information concerning Mr O’Brien between now and a full hearing of this matter unless restrained from a court by doing so. And he said it wouldn’t be appropriate to vacate the existing order but instead, the correct course of action to take was to amend the order to take account of developments since it was originally made.”