Irish Press shareholder challenges refusal of inquiry 

Plaintiff wants probe into why two annual meetings were not held prior to liquidation 
 
A former shareholder in the Irish Press company has challenged a refusal of the accountancy supervisory body to order an inquiry surrounding a complaint about why two annual general meetings were not held some years before the company went into liquidation. 
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. 
 
Neal Duggan, a son of the late tycoon Paddy Duggan, who lived with his family at Walford on Shrewsbury Road, Dublin, has brought High Court proceedings against the Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA). Walford came to public prominence after it was sold in 2005 for a record €58 million to the now bankrupt businessman Sean Dunne. Paddy Duggan, who died aged 95 in 2004, left most of his estate, including Walford, to his three children. 
 
Neal Duggan claims the IAASA failed to – among other things – provide reasons as to why it backed the refusal by the Chartered Accountants Regulatory Body (CARB) to properly conduct an inquiry into why Irish Press auditors Deloitte did not ensure annual general meetings were held in 2012 and 2013. Mr Duggan claims IAASA should have enquired whether CARB complied with its approved investigation and disciplinary procedures. 
 
Reasons 
In his High Court action, he claims there was a failure to give reasons and substance for the IAASA decision. Remy Farrell SC, for Mr Duggan, said the focus of his judicial review case against IAASA related to, among other things, the failure to provide reasons and taking into account wholly irrelevant considerations when dealing with the complaints made by Mr Duggan. 
 
It was bordering on the absurd for a public body like IAASA to suggest it could not give reasons for its decision, and that it was not allowed discuss internal workings of why it took such a course because it was in some way subject to statutory confidentiality, counsel said. 
 
His client was entitled to a declaration from the court in relation to the inadequacy of the reasons for the refusal, he said. 
 
Rossa Fanning SC, for IAASA, said a letter of October 2018 to Mr Duggan, which refused to embark on an inquiry under Section 933 of the 2014 Companies Act gave sufficient reasons and his client stands by those reasons. Counsel also argued that the personal rights of Mr Duggan, as a person with no pecuniary interest in the actual decision, were not in any way affected. Mr Justice Garrett Simons has reserved his decision. 
 
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