Ruling on legal costs in promissory notes case


Businessman David Hall has been awarded some of the legal costs of his challenge to the lawfulness of the State’s decision to pay promissory notes under which €31 billion to date has been paid in aid of Irish financial institutions.

The president of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, ruled this week Mr Hall lacked the necessary legal standing to bring the challenge and it could only be taken by a member of the Dáil.

Mr Hall, who brought the case against the Minister for Finance and the State, is appealing that ruling to the Supreme Court, and will apply next week for an urgent hearing of that appeal.

The case was heard over four days and was mentioned before Mr Justice Kearns yesterday to address liability for costs.

Mr Justice Kearns ruled Mr Hall was entitled to costs against the State of two days of the hearing, the State was entitled to one day’s costs against him, and the sides were to pay their own costs of the remaining day.

While he had found against Mr Hall on grounds he lacked legal standing, that particular argument, raised by the State in its defence, should have been argued as a preliminary issue, the judge said. Had that occurred it would have saved time and expense.

Earlier, seeking Mr Hall’s costs, John Rogers SC argued Mr Hall had raised a novel issue of significant importance and there could be no doubting his bona fides.

Michael McDowell SC, for the State, argued it should not have to bear the costs of an action it had won.

He said the defendants had raised the legal standing issue as their first ground of defence and cross-examined Mr Hall solely on that point during the hearing.

Mr Hall, of College Grove, Castleknock, Dublin, a founder member of the New Beginning group of business people and lawyers, had sought to prevent the State making payments on foot of the notes issued from March 2010.

He argued the Minister for Finance was not entitled to pay the notes unless such payment was authorised by a Dáil vote.

The Minister and State denied the specific mandate of the Dáil was required for the making of the notes, and also argued that Mr Hall had no legal standing to make such claims.