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Irish Times: Judge refuses to allow Shell docket

Wednesday 6 December 2006

The High Court has refused an application by two opponents of the route of the Corrib gas pipeline for an order that a document of Shell E & P Ireland’s lawyers can be used in proceedings brought against the company.

Mr Justice Thomas Smyth yesterday dismissed claims by Brendan Philbin and Breege McGarry that a solicitor’s attendance docket, mistakenly included by Shell’s lawyers in documents for court proceedings last year, showed an abuse of the court process by Shell.

A solicitor’s attendance docket is a record of notes of a consultation or meeting with a client.

The judge held the documents showed no evidence of “moral turpitude” or an ulterior motive by the company when bringing proceedings which led to the jailing of five residents of Rossport, Co Mayo, for 94 days last year.

Mr Justice Smyth said it was clear neither Shell nor its lawyers had any intention of waiving privilege over the docket, that it was released to the defendants by mistake and, having regard to its nature, it would be immediately clear it was a privileged document recording the giving and receiving of legal advice.

The mistake only came to light when The Irish Times contacted Shell in July 2005 to comment on the document.

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