Gun owners not entitled to costs of successful court challenge, judge rules

Action brought after District Courts overturned decision by gardaí on certifications

Twenty-seven gun owners had  brought a collective High Court challenge arguing that three District Court  judges had erred in law and fettered the discretion which exists to grant costs. Photograph: Getty

Twenty-seven gun owners had brought a collective High Court challenge arguing that three District Court judges had erred in law and fettered the discretion which exists to grant costs. Photograph: Getty

 

The High Court has ruled that 27 gun-owners are not entitled to the costs of their successful legal challenges to the refusal by gardaí to grant them firearm certificates.

The 27 men had brought appeals to the District Court against the refusals by four Garda chief superintendents to grant them firearm certificates.

The cases were heard in three District Courts before three different judges all of whom overturned the Garda decision.

The judges in each case refused the successful applicants the costs of taking their cases on grounds the District Court had no jurisdiction under the relevant legislation to do so.

The gun owners then brought a collective High Court challenge arguing the judges had erred in law and fettered the discretion which exists to grant costs.

They also argued, if no such jurisdiction exists, its absence amounted to a denial of their rights to fair procedures under the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

The State denied the claims.

In her judgment, Ms Justice Marie Baker said the gun owners had not raised any argument or authority which would persuade her to depart from previous case law on the subject of granting costs.

She considered the appeals to the District Court had to be considered as licensing matters which put them outside the scope of court rules relating to costs. She also rejected arguments in relation to breaches of rights.