Supreme Court bulwark for the People against prevailing low standards

Thank God for the Supreme Court and the triumph of common sense.

Mr James Flavin was CEO of DCC and also a director of Fyffes, the fruit importer. The Supreme Court found the he had acted illegally by selling DCC’s shares in Fyffe’s while in possession of confidential information which, if known to the public, would have affected Fyffe’s share price.

Now shockingly, Mr Bill Shipsey, a High Court inspector for the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement issued a report exonerated Flavin on the grounds – to quote Matt Cooper in the Sunday Times – “that he didn’t know what he was doing, did not mean to act illegally and had taken legal advice before engaging in the transactions.”

“On the basis of this report, it seems that ignorance may now be a defence for breaking corporate law”

Matt Cooper is compellingly convincing when he writes “It is up to the Judiciary, sitting in courts or at tribunals, to decide whether a legal opinion is valid, justified or self-serving. Just because it was given and action taken on the back of it, doesn’t mean it was valid.”

“Common sense, as much as anything else, influenced the Supreme Court judgement that Flavin’s actions at DCC were illegal. It was not necessary to decide whether he meant it or not”

What is now needed is an appeal mechanism of some kind or a parliamentary enquiry into this decision and its potential consequences to guard the integrity of democratic and constitutional accountability in this state.

This development, along with the private (hidden/secret) inquiry into the banking meltdown, shows the huge flaws in the governance of our public domain. The permanent government Fianna Fail have have a mentality that breeds acceptance of light touch laxity in business ethics right across the spectrum.

Ref: Matt Cooper “Ignorance could be bankers’ best defence”; The Sunday Times Jan 24 2010, p12