Judge excoriates State’s bid to avoid full legal costs in deportation case

Application only served to add a day’s worth of costs to bill – Justice Richard Humphreys

Mr Justice Richard Humphreys has developed a reputation for imaginative rulings, often containing literary references

Mr Justice Richard Humphreys has developed a reputation for imaginative rulings, often containing literary references

 

A High Court judge, in a ruling that referenced Greek philosophy and Japanese traditional theatre, has excoriated an attempt by the State to avoid paying full legal costs in a deportation case it lost.

In a judgment published on Monday, Mr Justice Richard Humphreys denied an application by the State to award costs against a woman challenging a decision to deport her from the country.

The costs ruling related to a case brought before the Court of Justice of the European Union, which was asked to rule if the State had the power to deport a foreign national who at one point enjoyed residency rights in Ireland through their marriage to an EU citizen.

The State lost on the substantial point before the court. It later dropped its planned deportation of the Mauritian national and said it would remove her from the country using a different process.

Noel Travers SC, representing the Department of Justice, argued the woman should receive no more than 75 per cent of her costs. Mr Justice Humphreys noted this went against the rule of thumb that “costs follow the event”.

Mr Justice Humphreys wrote that the State’s argument was of “such fluidity that grasping the same formulation of it twice was as futile as trying to step for a second time into Heraclitus’s river”. Heraclitus was an ancient Greek philosopher who used the river as a metaphor for the ever-changing nature of life.

The judge continued that the barrister’s lengthy and detailed submissions “defy summarisation any more than it would be possible to adequately describe a command performance of kabuki theatre using mere words”.

Extra day’s costs

Mr Justice Humphrey’s said he did not blame Mr Travers “because this is a technical matter” but said there was no reason to depart from the principle that costs follow the event. He said the State’s application only served to add a day’s worth of costs to the legal bill.

Since his appointment in 2015 the judge, who hears the majority of asylum cases before the High Court, has developed a reputation for imaginative rulings, often containing literary references.

Last week he compared the Department of Justice’s approach to an immigration matter to that of pig dictator Napoleon, the “pitiless protagonist” in George Orwell’s classic novel Animal Farm.

In June he called the deportation process a “Hydra-headed” system where every adverse decision led to new legal challenges. It was “an Alice in Wonderland approach to jurisprudence”, he said.

Last January he compared the removal of the legislation directory from the Irish Statute Book website to the “vaporisation of an unperson in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four”.