Judge terminates legal costs hearing because of Ammi Burke’s conduct

Judge will decide the issue based on written submissions from the parties

Ammi Burke's challenge to the Workplace Relations Commission’s rejection of her claim of unfair dismissal from law firm Arthur Cox was thrown out mid-hearing last May, due to her 'blatant abuse of the court process;. Photograph: Collins

A High Court judge terminated a hearing about the legal costs of Ammi Burke’s failed action over a Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) decision after repeatedly asking the solicitor to stick to the issue and refrain from accusing others of lying.

Ms Justice Marguerite Bolger bid members of the court “good day” as she left the room to shouts of “shame on you” by Ms Burke’s mother and father.

Ms Burke’s challenge to the WRC’s rejection of her claim of unfair dismissal from law firm Arthur Cox was thrown out mid-hearing last May, due to her “blatant abuse of the court process”.

At the outset of the costs hearing on Wednesday, the judge warned she would end the session and rely solely on written submissions provided if Ms Burke repeated her earlier behaviour, such as shouting down the judge and opposing lawyers.


Immediately, Ms Burke interrupted the judge, who told her to “sit down”.

Various exchanges followed regarding Ms Burke’s complaints about the use of a stenographer hired by Arthur Cox to take a record of the hearing. Ms Burke did not present legal authorities to support her challenge to the use of the service, which she described as a “private arrangement”.

The judge refused Ms Burke’s request for the court to withdraw its “abuse of process” finding against her. This issue could be brought to the Court of Appeal, Ms Justice Bolger said.

Ms Burke asked the judge to order the parties to pay their own legal costs, which would be a departure from the typical practice of making the losing side pay for the winning side. The WRC and Arthur Cox “trenchantly pushed” for her case to be dismissed but now bemoan wasted legal costs, she submitted.

Previously, Catherine Donnelly SC, for the WRC, and Peter Ward SC, for Arthur Cox, urged the court to award their clients their costs on a “legal practitioner and client basis”, which covers all reasonable costs incurred, even those that were not absolutely necessary.

Such an order would mark the court’s disapproval of Ms Burke’s conduct during the May hearing, said Ms Donnelly.

Ms Justice Bolger formally rejected Ms Burke’s allegation of lying made against Mr Ward. There was “no basis” for this allegation, the judge said.

Ms Burke told the court it “must look to the conduct of the parties”, to which Ms Bolger responded: “Oh, the court will be looking at the conduct of parties. You can rest assured.”

Ms Burke continually challenged previous findings of the court and raised issues the judge did not consider to be relevant.

After repeated requests for her to refrain from accusing others of lying, to “control the people” with her, and to speak only on the issue of costs and final orders, Ms Justice Bolger ended the hearing.

She will deliver her decision on the final orders and costs at a later date.

Ms Burke’s WRC complaint alleging she was unfairly dismissed from Arthur Cox in late 2019 was dismissed due to persistent interruptions from the Burke family.

Arthur Cox denied she was unfairly dismissed.

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is High Court Reporter with The Irish Times