An injunction that forced a Newry gym owner to close his business was revoked at the High Court on Friday.
The order obtained by police against Declan Trainor was rescinded because of a legal requirement for authorisation from the Attorney General.
But Mr Justice McFarland stressed his decision did not clear the way for Mr Trainor to reopen again during current Covid restrictions.
“The defendant should be aware that the revocation of the interim injunction does not in any way grant him permission to reopen the premises or for him to otherwise carry on activities in breach of the regulations,” the judge said.
Mr Trainor runs The Gym in Newry city.
In December last year, the PSNI secured an ex parte injunction ordering him to keep the facility closed until permitted to trade again by the Coronavirus Regulations.
It was contended there was evidence he had allegedly breached regulations and ignored approaches from police.
Mr Trainor sought to discharge the injunction on the grounds that only the Attorney General can bring proceedings to restrain commission of a criminal offence.
He also contended that the terms of the order were unlawful and unconstitutional.
Ruling on the dispute, Mr Justice McFarland identified clear legal authority that any litigation to preserve a public right cannot be brought by a private citizen or public body without the consent of the Attorney General.
He held that the regulations did not permit the Chief Constable to commence civil action in his own name without authority.
“In the circumstances, the injunction granted by the court on December 31, 2020 cannot stand and is revoked,” the judge said.
Proceedings were adjourned for two weeks to enable the Attorney General to take any steps considered appropriate.
Mr Trainor’s legal representative, Martin Durkan of KRW Law, welcomed the verdict.
“He always thought the police went over the top in rushing through this injunction on top of criminal proceedings already brought against him,” he said.
“He feels totally vindicated and has every intention of complying with the undertaking not to reopen his gym until things change.”