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Our Investigations & White Collar Crime team reviews three significant legal developments from 2023, which included the first ever conviction in Ireland for insider dealing.

First conviction in Ireland for insider trading

In October of this year, a businessman was charged and pleaded guilty to the offence of insider dealing under Regulation 5 of the Market Abuse Regulations and Section 1368 of the Companies Act 2014.

Given this is the first conviction of its kind in the State, it will be interesting to see if the businessman receives a term of imprisonment.

He will be sentenced by the Circuit Criminal Court imminently, and faces a fine of up to €10,000 and/or a term of imprisonment of up to 10 years.

Legal privilege and the Corporate Enforcement Authority

There was also an important Court of Appeal decision this year, which reinforced the heavy onus on parties claiming legal professional privilege over documents to do so in a thorough, measured and cogent manner. In a recent case[1] involving the former Chief Executive Officer of the Football Association of Ireland, John Delaney, the Court of Appeal upheld a decision of the High Court which had refused to follow recommendations by two appointed independent assessors. The assessors believed that legal professional privilege should apply to certain documents held by Mr Delaney.

The Court of Appeal also held that the High Court has a broad discretion to review documents itself to consider whether they are privileged if it considers it necessary and advantageous to the proceedings to do so.

Read our full article: Legal Privilege and the Corporate Enforcement Authority

First anniversary of the CEA

Finally, this year marked the first anniversary of the Corporate Enforcement Authority (CEA) since its establishment in July 2022. The CEA replaced the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE). It is a completely independent statutory agency with greater powers and an increased budget. It will be interesting to see if these increased powers have resulted in an increase in arrests and prosecutions when the CEA publishes its first annual report in early 2024.

One of the key highlights for the CEA this year was the holding of its inaugural conference at the Kings Inns in October 2023. As part of the CEA’s mandate to publish information and provide guidance, it makes speakers available to attend events and webinars covering topics such as the Companies Act 2014, white collar crime, fraud and investigations.

David Hegarty, Director of Legal and Policy at the CEA, attended as a panel member for our annual webinar on Investigations & Corporate Crime in October 2023. You can watch the recording of the full webinar: Investigations & Corporate Crime Update


We won’t know until we see the CEA’s first annual report whether the increase in powers and budget has resulted in an increase in prosecutions for breaches of the Companies Acts since the CEA replaced the ODCE. It seems inevitable that the CEA will want to assert itself and invoke many of the new measures now available to it.

It will also be interesting to see what sentence the first conviction in the State for insider dealing will bring, and whether the Circuit Court will take the opportunity to set a marker for future convictions under this legislation. This would send a powerful message to all would-be wrongdoers and support the work of the CEA and other enforcement authorities.

For more information and expert advice, contact a member of our Investigations & White Collar Crime team.

The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.

[1] Corporate Enforcement Authority (CEA) v. Corporate Enforcement Authority v Cumann Peile na hÉireann ‘Football Association of Ireland’ and John Delaney [2023] IECA, 226

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