The ESB has asked the High Court for orders requiring two companies to provide it with information about several of its employees who are alleged to have demanded cash payments to complete electrical works near constructions sites.

The allegations are now the subject of a garda investigation, the court heard.

The ESB is seeking what are known as Norwich Pharmacal type orders against two related firms, Richmond Homes Ltd and Arkmount Construction Ltd, which last May informed the ESB that its employees had sought payments from the two companies, which are involved in the construction of houses.

These orders, if granted, would require the firms to provide the ESB information, including the names of the individuals who are alleged to make the demands for cash payments, how much was sought and paid by the firms, and what works were carried out in exchange for the cash.

The application has been opposed on grounds including, that the companies have already provided the ESB with a large amount of documentation in relation to the claim, and that the application to the court is disproportionate and unwarranted.

The ESB and its subsidiary ESB Networks DAC seeks orders from the court directing Richmond Homes and Arkmount Construction, with registered addresses at Embassy House, Ballsbridge in Dublin, to provide the plaintiffs with details and information about the alleged payments made to the ESB employees.

The details sought by the ESB include names of the persons who made the request for payments, details of what was to be done in consideration of making the payments, and the amounts allegedly paid.

They also seek to be provided with the places where such alleged payments were and the methods the claimed payments were made.

At the opening of the application before Mr Justice Conor Dignam, Marcus Dowling SC, with Joe Jeffers SC for the ESB, said that his client is seeking the information to it can take proceedings against the individuals alleged to have made the demands for cash.

Counsel said that while the firms have disclosed a large volume of material, particularly in relation to one individual who is claimed to have demanded €10,000, the ESB is seeking information about three others who are also alleged to have solicited payments from the companies.

It had sought additional information about the alleged wrong doers, and the payments from the defendants, but had not received the details sought.

In reply, Tony McGillicuddy SC, with Gary Compton Bl, for the defendants said that the ESB's application was unprecedented, and should not be granted.

The ESB's application differed hugely from other similar applications, counsel said, as in this case, it was his clients that informed the ESB about the alleged solicitation of payments.

It was also his clients who had given the ESB the names of the four individual ESB employees involved in the alleged solicitation, counsel added.

His clients had not only fully co-operated with the gardaí in relation to the matter, but counsel also said they had gone above and beyond in providing documentation about the allegations to the ESB.

The defendants have also claimed that the requests for information made by the ESB had lacked specificity and had only clarified certain matters about what it seeks during Tuesday's hearings.

The hearing continues.