At the time of his dismissal the former chief executive of Dairygold did not have a viable contract,  it was claimed in court.

Businessman Jerry Henchy (48) from Kilmallock, Co Limerick is suing his former employers for €8m in damages arising from his dismissal for “spurious reasons” to do with alleged financial irregularities with his farm account. He is also suing the co-operative for defamation over articles which appeared in the national and international press subsequently. Dairygold contests all counts.

Under cross-examination from counsel for Dairygold Paul Gardiner SC, Henchy agreed that the contract he had signed with Dairygold transferred to Reox Holdings Ltd after the de-merger of the two companies. However, he said that since the terms of his employment had now changed as he now had to split his duties between both Reox and Dairygold, the contract was flawed. He agreed that he had cited the contract during correspondence with Reox after the termination of his employment but insisted the contract was “still largely inoperable.”

Henchy acknowledged that Reox appeared as his sole employer on tax documents and pay slips between the demerger in 2006 and his departure from the company in 2009. However he said that as CEO he was in a unique situation within the company and was working for both Reox and the co-operative. He said that Dairygold had continued to pay his PRSI, car benefits and pension for the role he performed for them.

Gardiner asked him if there was any document that showed he was employed by Dairygold during this period. “No, there is not” was the answer.

Henchy also accepted that Dairygold had not paid half of his remuneration after the initial agreement. He told Gardiner that this had arisen because the two companies separately decided their portion of any raise he was to receive. Henchy agreed that Dairygold had paid substantially less than 50 per cent some years.

Henchy told Gardiner that he had not fully read all the documents disclosed by Dairygold since receiving them three years ago. He said that he had read through everything when he first got it and had marked whatever was relevant. Afterwards he had concentrated on the documents he had marked.

“So in preparation of your case for circa €10m you did not review discovery?” asked Gardiner.

Henchy told him that his legal team had put together the books of evidence that formed his case and he did not know why certain documents were not included. He said he was not a legal expert.

Henchy agreed that he had been instrumental in organising the demerger. He agreed with Gardiner that a disagreement over a Long Term Incentive Scheme for Reox executives was not the only reason the process was held up. He agreed that he had written to unions representing employees who would transfer to the new company outlining the contractual implications of the move.

He accepted that that there was a copy of a letter sent to all employees of Dairygold who were being transferred to Reox Holdings with his name on. “The letter is signed by you, Henchy,” said Mr Gardiner. Henchy told him that he not remember receiving such a letter. His name would have been on a database of staff making the move, he told Gardiner, but the letter did not apply to him.

The case continues tomorrow in the High Court in Dublin before Mr Justice Daniel Herbert.