Teaching Council allowed access details from abuse case against former teachers

Judge orders regulator can receive names of individuals man claimed assaulted him

A judge has made orders allowing the Teaching Council access information arising out of a High Court action brought by a man against parties he claimed sexually abused him when he was a schoolboy.

Last year, the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, settled a High Court damages claim against the Christian Brothers in Ireland, two named Christian Brothers, Scouting Ireland and a named former Scout leader for alleged sexual assault in the 1970s.

That claim, which came before Mr Justice David Keane was settled in July 2019. The action was subject of certain reporting restrictions in order to protect the identity of the complainant.

Following newspaper reports of that action the Teaching Council of Ireland, which regulates and promotes the profession in Ireland, sought a court order seeking to be provided with certain details, including the names of the individual teachers, in the case.


The application was made arising out of the council’s concerns and obligations to protect children, given that allegations had been made against persons who were teachers.

In a judgment on Wednesday, Mr Justice Keane said the court was prepared to make orders allowing the council access to documentation in the action.

The court, he said, had a jurisdiction to disseminate information about proceedings the subject of report restrictions where it was appropriate to do so.

The judge said arguments advanced by the Teaching Council in support of its application were weak.

However, the court was prepared to make certain orders in the council’s favour on the basis that the man who took the action was neither objecting nor consenting to the application for documentation.

The judge ordered that documents in the clam be disclosed by the complainant’s lawyers to the council, and varied orders concerning reporting restrictions made during the hearing of the case.

The judge said that any disciplinary hearing conducted by the council based on documentation from the case should occur in private, in order to protect the complainant’s identity.

The council must also anonymise any adverse finding against any person as a result of the documentation, and that material must not be divulged to anybody else, the court also ruled.

The court was not prepared to make any order compelling the Courts Service to provide any information of the action to the council.

The judge said he was satisfied to make the orders even though the council had failed to persuade the court that it needed the documentation from the case in order to fulfil its duties to protect children, compared with the complainant’s right to anonymity.

The council’s application had ignored the fact that there was a comprehensive vetting process that all teachers and those working with children must go through, he said.

That process, he said, had been designed by the Oireachtas for the purpose of addressing the vital need to protect children.

The judge also took into account that the council’s inquiries “strongly suggest” that neither of the relevant defendants was on the teaching register.

The public interest in this case, when the countervailing interests of the complainant in the personal injuries claim are taken into account, did not provide “a potent or forceful argument for the disclosure of the particular circumstances of this case”.

He added he was not inclined in this case to imperil the protections granted by the court to the man by “increasing the risk of a jigsaw identification of the complainant”.

That was not the end of the matter and however weak the council’s case was the judge said he had to take into account the fact the complainant was not opposing the order sought.

He said it was for this reason that the court was prepared to make the orders, adding that it was up to the complainant to “weigh up the balance of his own privacy interests” against the provision of assistance to the council.