Four TDs seek to join legal challenge to promissory notes

The four TDs are seeking to be joined to businessman David Hall's court action against the promissory note payments.

The four TDs are seeking to be joined to businessman David Hall's court action against the promissory note payments.

Thu, Feb 7, 2013, 00:00

Four TDs - Clare Daly, Luke Flanagan, Mick Wallace and Joan Collins - want to be joined to businessman David Hall's challenge to the Government's payment of promissory notes, including a €3 billion payment scheduled for late next month, the Supreme Court heard today.

The State contends any such challenge may become pointless if the European Central Bank gives the go ahead this afternoon to the Government's move to liquidate the bank as part of its plan to defer payment of the promissory notes over a longer period.

John Rogers SC, for Mr Hall, said the position as of now is the March 31st payment will be made without Dáil approval and his side's case raised important principles about the payment of public monies without Dáil approval. Some €31 billion such payments have been made to date.

The Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Susan Denham, said an application could be made on February 15th next seeking permission for the four deputies to be joined as plaintiffs in Mr Hall's case and appellants in his appeal against the High Court's decision he, because he is not a member of the Dáil, does not have the necessary legal standing to challenge the note payments.

The Supreme Court would address what priority should be given to Mr Hall's appeal later, she said.

All four TDs were in the Supreme Court today when the matter was mentioned to the Chief Justice.

Mr Rogers asked for an urgent hearing of Mr Hall's appeal in which he wants the Supreme Court to also address the "principal issue", the lawfulness of paying the promissory notes without Dáil approval. The State was contending such payments could be made without Dáil approval and, as of now, the March 31st payment was to be made without Dáil approval, he said.

Michael McDowell SC, for the State, said the High Court had decided Mr Hall had no legal standing and the appeal could be on that finding only. The proposed joining of the four TDs was a bid to get around that legal standing finding, counsel said.

The State contended the Supreme Court could not address the other issues raised by Mr Hall because those issues had not been decided in the High Court, counsel said. The State also submitted, "under no circumstances", could the Supreme Court address the issue of the constitutionality of the legislation under which the promissory note payments were made.

While the issue of payment of public monies was "of course extremely important", the High Court had ruled Mr Hall had no legal standing to raise that, he added.

Mr McDowell also said it was "fairly obvious" matters had changed with the passage of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Act 2013 overnight providing for the winding up of IBRC (formerly Anglo) and the "reconfiguration" of the liabilities of the State to that bank. Negotiations in Frankfurt "would or could have a very significant bearing" whether Mr Hall's case became moot in its entirety, counsel said. In all those circumstances, the case did not deserve priority, he argued.

The action by Mr Hall, College Grove, Castleknock, Dublin, a founder member of the New Beginning group of business people and lawyers, is aimed at preventing the State making payments on foot of promissory notes issued from March 2010 in favour of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC and the former Anglo Irish Bank), Educational Building Society and Irish Nationwide Building Society.

He argued the Minister for Finance was not entitled to pay the notes unless such payment was authorised by a Dáil vote. It was accepted by both sides there was no such vote but the Minister and State denied the specific mandate of the Dáil was required and also argued Mr Hall had no legal standing to make such claims. The High Court found only a TD could bring such an action.