Sports Direct battles to stop “private” files being handed to regulators

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Sports Direct Deloitte Grant Thornton
The dispute is part of a court case that is being closely watched by the audit profession
// Sports Direct, now known as Frasers Group, in court to prevent “private” documents it provided to accountants being handed to regulators
// It is attempting to overturn a High Court ruling from 2018 that ordered it to hand over 40 company documents to the FRC

Frasers Group is currently in a battle to block “private” documents it provided to its accountants being handed over to regulators.

The dispute is part of a court case that is being closely watched by the audit profession.

The Mike Ashley-owned firm, which renamed itself from Sports Direct in December, said maintained that it had a “fundamental right” to keep private legal documents it gave to Grant Thornton and Deloitte in a Court of Appeal hearing on Wednesday.


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Frasers Group is attempting to overturn a High Court ruling from 2018 that ordered it to hand over 40 company documents to the Financial Reporting Council (FRC), the audit regulator.

The FRC took the then-Sports Direct to court so it would have access to the material in relation to its investigation of Grant Thornton’s audit of the business in 2016.

The FRC is investigating whether Grant Thornton signed off on a business arrangement between the retailer and Barlin Delivery, a company owned by Ashley’s older brother John.

In 2018, the judge agreed with the regulator and criticised Sports Direct for “obfuscation and delay verging on obstruction” by refusing to hand over the documents.

Frasers Group has now responded that the documents were covered by legal protection that keeps certain communications between a client and a lawyer confidential.

The documents include emails and faxes Sports Direct exchanged with its lawyers but which were subsequently sent to Grant Thornton, and auditor Deloitte.

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