Judgments: Key cases in brief


Breach of rules during referendum campaign did not warrant annulment of outcome Jordan v. Minister for Children [2015]IESC 33 (Supreme Court, Clarke J, Denham CJ, O’Donnell J, MacMenamin J (nem diss), 24 April 2015) Supreme Court dismisses two appeals from the High Court, and affirms: a) a determination that legislation concerning referendum campaigns was compatible with the Constitution; and b) a determination that a breach of the rules by the state during a referendum campaign on “Children’s Rights” was not sufficient to warrant an annulment of the outcome without evidence that it had materially affected the result.

Mark Tottenham BL

Suspended sentence replaced imprisonment term for serious sexual abuse DPP v. Counihan [2015]IECA 76 (Court of Appeal, Ryan P, 24 March 2015) Court of Appeal allows appeal brought by the DPP of a suspended sentence imposed for serious sexual abuse, finding that a term of imprisonment of three years was merited having considered the aggravating and mitigating factors.

Ciaran Joyce BL

Master of the High Court had no jurisdiction to strike out summary summons where adequate particulars of debt were provided AIB v. Pierce [2015]IECA 87 (Court of Appeal, Hogan J, Kelly J, 22 April 2015) Court of Appeal allows appeal from order striking out summary summons, finding that: 1) the plaintiff bank had supplied adequate particulars of debt for the purposes of the rules of court; and 2) in a contested case, the Master of the High Court had no jurisdiction and his task was simply to transfer the case to the High Court once it was administratively ready for hearing.

– Ciaran Joyce BL

Refusal of discovery and protective costs order in judicial review of planning decision Callaghan v. An Bord Pleanála [2015]IEHC 235 (High Court, McGovern J, 20 February 2015) High Court: a) refuses an extensive application for discovery in an application for judicial review of a decision concerning a proposed wind farm development, on grounds that the application was based on mere bald assertions unsubstantiated by any disputed factual evidence in the applicant’s own affidavit; and b) refuses an application for a protective costs order as the impugned decision failed to meet the criteria under the planning and development legislative regime.

Ian Fitzharris BL

Master of the High Court had no power to refer court file to DPP Allied Irish Bank PLC v. Honohan [2015]IEHC 247 (High Court, O’Malley J, 17 April 2015) High Court grants judicial review of: a) a decision by the Master of the High Court to refer papers to the DPP – where he considered that there was perjury in affidavits sworn by bank officials – on grounds that he had no power to do so; and b) a subsequent decision by the Master to strike out the special summons in the case.

– Conor O’Higgins BL

Bank obtains orders for possession of residential investment properties despite pending appeal on amount owed AIB Mortgage Bank v. O’Doherty [2015]IEHC 233 (High Court, Keane J, 21 April 2015) High Court grants bank orders for possession of investment properties, facilitating the exercise of its power of sale in circumstances where the defendant had failed to discharge a summary judgment in the sum of over €4.7 million and, despite a pending appeal on the question of the exact quantum of such judgement, had failed to establish a valid defence.

– Ian Fitzharris

Evidence obtained in breach of constitutional rights should not be automatically ruled inadmissible at trial DPP v. JC [2015]IESC 31 (Supreme Court, Clarke J, Hardiman J (diss), MacMenamin J, Murray J (diss), O’Donnell J, 15 April 2015) Supreme Court, by way of appeal on application of the DPP from an acquittal of robbery in the Circuit Court: a) determines that admissions made while under arrest pursuant to an unconstitutional search warrant should not have been excluded from the jury by the trial judge, although she was following the law as it stood; and b) determines that a previous rule that unconstitutionally obtained evidence should be excluded without qualification was wrong in principle.

– Ciaran Joyce

Application to annul bankruptcy of husband and wife was abuse of process O’Donnell v. The Governor and Company of the Bank of Ireland [2015]IEHC 228 (High Court, Costello J, 16 April 2015) High Court refuses to exercise its discretion to annul the bankruptcy of a husband and wife, on the grounds, inter alia, that: (a) they had produced no new evidence in support of their application; (b) arguments on which they relied could have been raised in the bankruptcy hearing or in related summary proceedings; and (c) the application was an abuse of process.

– Conor O’Higgins BL

New board of inquiry to be established in respect of Garda who allegedly refused to submit to drugs search Walsh v. Revington [2015]IESC 34 (Supreme Court, Laffoy J, 23 April 2015) Supreme Court dismisses appeal from High Court and: a) affirms decision to grant judicial review of dismissal of member of An Garda Síochána who allegedly engaged in discreditable conduct by refusing to submit to a lawful drug search at a music festival, on the grounds the decision was ultra vires; and b) remits the matter to the Garda Commissioner to establish a new board of inquiry in respect of the matter.

– Mark Tottenham BL

The full text of each judgment can be found on courts.ie. These reports are provided by Stare Decisis Hibernia: staredecisishibernia.com.