Judge rules on pre-trial discovery motion in Web Summit dispute

David Kelly and his corporate entity Graiguearidda Ltd want the court to rule on its request for various documents relating to the use of Web Summit funds
Judge rules on pre-trial discovery motion in Web Summit dispute

High court reporters

The High Court has made a pre-trial discovery order in one of several actions concerning the affairs of the Web Summit technology events company.

Mr Justice Mark Sanfey reached conclusions on various categories of documents sought by David Kelly and his corporate entity Graiguearidda Ltd, which holds his 12 per cent share in Web Summit.

Graiguearidda is suing Web Summit’s holding company Manders Terrace Ltd and the event company’s chief executive, Patrick Cosgrave and his entity, Proto Roto Ltd, claiming oppression of shareholders’ rights under section 212 of the Companies Act, 2014.

The respondents dispute that any oppressive conduct took place.

The judge noted there is much litigation between these parties in relation to the affairs of the company, involving suit and counter-suit.

At the discovery hearing last month, the court heard that several discovery motions, brought variously by the parties involved in some of the actions, had been resolved without the need of the court’s assistance.

Web Summit funds

However, Graigueridda wanted the court to rule on its request for various documents relating to the use of Web Summit funds. It also sought, among other things, specific financial records going back a number of years in order to conduct a valuation of the firm and Mr Kelly’s shares.

In a ruling on Wednesday, Mr Justice Sanfey ordered the respondents to furnish Graigueridda with briefing papers provided to Web Summit’s board of directors along with the monthly management of accounts.

He also ordered discovery of documents that establish levels of directors’ compensation that are sufficient to establish the allocation of employees to specific projects and their salary levels for the historical period.

These had been sought by Graigueridda in relation to its claim that the company has recently expanded from being primarily one that stages technology conferences to one also engaged in other commercial ventures, including software development.

The judge found some of the categories requested by Graigueridda were “overly broad” and, therefore, he narrowed the request.

He also refused an appeal for documents relating to statements that may have been made by Web Summit senior management to the effect that there is no separation in place between the interests of Mr Cosgrave and the company. He found such an inquiry, sought to evidence a disputed allegation, was “speculative” and not necessary.

Mr Justice Sanfey considered that another category, seeking communications between Mr Kelly and Mr Cosgrave from 2010, was “although broadly expressed [...] relevant and necessary for the fair disposal of the issues”.

In ordering discovery in the pre-trial motion, the judge emphasised that he was not deciding where the truth of any allegations lie, as this is the role of the judge presiding over the trial.

All of the claims in the action are denied.

 

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