Key cases in brief
The scales of justice on the roof of the Four Courts in Dublin
The placement of a child for adoption is permitted without notification of the natural father. In re the Adoption Authority of Ireland and KSH (a minor) (High Court, Abbott J, December 4th, 2015) The High Court grants an order approving the placement for adoption of a seven-month-old child without notifying the natural father, on the grounds that the mother had refused to reveal his identity to the statutory adoption authority and that it was in the best interests of the child that provision be made for her speedy adoption, notwithstanding the danger that he might challenge the adoption at a later date.
Conor O’Higgins BL
A non-executive director escapes a restriction order subject to the provision of an undertaking. Cahill v O’Brien, (High Court, Murphy J, December 17th, 2015) The High Court, on the application of a company’s liquidator, a) grants an order to restrict one director for five years, arising from his conscious failure to file annual returns, where the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement’s view on the issue of irresponsibility went uncontroverted on the evidence presented, but b), refuses to make a similar order against a non-executive director, accepting that in the interests of justice, an undertaking not to be involved in commercial affairs for a similar period would be sufficient to allay the court’s concerns.
Ian Fitzharris BL
A preliminary hearing of a jurisdiction issue in a contract dispute is unlikely to save time. C&F Green Energy v Bakker Magnetics (High Court, Hedigan J, December 8th, 2015) The High Court, in proceedings relating to the supply of allegedly defective magnets, refuses the defendant’s application for a preliminary hearing to determine whether Dutch or Irish law should apply to the relevant contract, on the grounds that a), the default position was that a unitary trial should occur, b), there was a dispute between the parties as to the material facts, and c) it was unlikely that a preliminary hearing would save time.
A taxpayer could not proceed with an appeal in both the High Court and the Circuit Court. O’Brien v Revenue Commissioners, (High Court, O’Malley J, January 12th, 2016) The High Court dismisses an appeal from the Circuit Court, and affirms the refusal to list a taxpayer’s appeal from a decision of the appeal commissioner, where the solicitor for the appellant had attempted to have a case stated from the decision to the High Court one day out of time, on the grounds that the lodging of the case stated proceedings with the High Court amounted to a binding election.
Shane Kiely BL
A criminal trial could not proceed where a vehicle was not preserved for inspection. O’Brien v DPP, (High Court, O’Malley J, January 12th, 2016) The High Court grants an order restraining a criminal trial for frustrating a prosecution, where the applicant had exited a Garda car while it was in motion, and where the vehicle in question was destroyed some months later, despite requests from an early stage for inspection, on grounds that the State had breached the duty to preserve evidence which might have a bearing on whether the applicant had fallen or jumped from the car.
Ciarán Joyce BL
A conflict between two High Court judgments gives rise to a point of law of exceptional public importance. BW v Refugee Appeals Tribunal (High Court, Humphreys J, December 21st, 2015) The High Court a), grants a Nigerian asylum seeker leave to appeal a judgment refusing her relief, so that a conflict could be resolved between two High Court judgments as to whether an unsustainable credibility finding could be severed from lawful credibility findings, and b), exercises its discretion to depart from the general rule that costs follow the event to award her the costs of the legal proceedings to date.
James Cross BL
A medical report of a Nigerian national was discounted as evidence of torture. IM (Niger) v Minister for Justice (High Court, Eagar J, December 17th, 2015) The High Court grants a judicial review of a decision to refuse refugee status to a Nigerian national, on the grounds that the Refugee Appeals Tribunal had erred in the way it treated the medical evidence, having failed to explain what significance was attached to the medical report or to say why the medical report was being discounted as evidence the applicant had been tortured.
An inadequate explanation of provocation in the judge’s charge renders a murder conviction unsafe DPP v Murphy (Court of Appeal, Mahon J, December 15th, 2015) The Court of Appeal allows an appeal from conviction of murder, where the appellant alleged provocation by words from his partner concerning another man with whom she had had a relationship, on the grounds that the trial judge had failed to give a proper explanation to the jury how the principles of provocation might find practical application in the case.
Ciarán Joyce BL