What is the Angela Kerins v PAC case about?
Central to the case is whether PAC had the jurisdiction to question Rehab boss
The former chief executive of the Rehab Group, Angela Kerins, arriving at the High Court in Dublin. Photograph: Collins Courts
Angela Kerins’s High Court case against the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC) centres on a seven-hour meeting in 2014.
The former chief executive of Rehab appeared before the committee on February 27th that year to discuss corporate governance at Rehab and the spending of funds received from the State.
Kerins has claimed there was a PAC “vendetta” against her, arising over the issue of her €240,000 salary.
She has said she was questioned about her car, salary, bonus payments and family members. She claims the committee conducted itself unlawfully, showed bias towards her, acted outside its remit and was guilty of misfeasance - improper misuse of power – in public office.
The public hearing, she said, damaged her health, caused her great distress. She even attempted suicide because of it, she told the High Court on Wednesday.
Judicial review cases are run on the basis of submissions and no oral evidence is given.
Kerins’s legal team and the committee’s team are both led by former attorneys general – senior counsels John Rogers and Paul Gallagher respectively. Maurice Collins SC is representing the remaining respondents.
Central to what Kerins seeks from the court is a declaration that the committee had no jurisdiction to examine or report on expenditure of money by the Rehab Group, in particular expenditure concerning Kerins.
Tainted with bias
The Public Accounts Committee denies her claims and maintains it was entitled to question her because 81 per cent of Rehab’s income in Ireland was provided by the State. It also argues that it cannot be sued for damages over matters said under privilege.
The question of any entitlement to damages will be considered after the High Court makes a decision on the jurisdictional issue.
At a preliminary hearing last month, the president of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, said that, as part of the committee’s response to Kerins’s action, the committee was effectively arguing for a “root and branch examination” of very fundamental issues concerning its jurisdiction.
Due to the importance of those issues, the judge said he would convene a three-judge High Court.
He is currently hearing the case, with Mr Justice Séamus Noonan and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy.