Judgments: Key cases in brief

The Scales of Justice on the roof of the Four Courts  in Dublin

The Scales of Justice on the roof of the Four Courts in Dublin


The delay by a liquidator in seeking the restriction of a company director is deemed excessive. Murray v Browne IEHC 651, High Court, Barrett J, October 20th, 2015 The High Court refuses to order the statutory restriction of a company director, where the liquidator of the company had misplaced a relevant letter from the Director of Corporate Enforcement giving rise to a delay of 13 months, and where the director had acted honestly and responsibly during and after the liquidation.

Shane Kiely BL

A claim against solicitors could not possibly succeed. Butler v Nelson & Co Solicitors IEHC 656 , High Court, Baker J, October 20th The High Court grants an order dismissing a claim against solicitors, on the grounds that allegations of conflict of interest and failure to advise the plaintiffs to take independent advice could not possibly succeed and where doubt existed over the credibility of some of the evidence adduced by the plaintiffs.

Mark Tottenham BL

A jury award of €900,000 to “drug dealer” in a defamation case was perverse. McDonagh v Sunday Newspapers, IECA 225, Court of Appeal, Hogan J, October 19th The Court of Appeal allows an appeal from the High Court and sets aside a €900,000 jury award in respect of a newspaper article entitled “Traveller is new drug king”.

It did so on the grounds that 1) it had been established that the plaintiff was a drug-dealer so that the jury’s conclusion to the contrary was perverse and could not be allowed to stand; and 2), a retrial had to be ordered in respect of a moneylending allegation in view of the failure of the plaintiff effectively to challenge the evidence from the Garda Síochána, as the jury should have been instructed that this evidence necessarily carried considerable weight.

Ciarán Joyce BL

A statutory justification existed for an arresting garda to execute an arrest warrant in a murder trial. DPP v Kirwan IECA 228, Court of Appeal, Birmingham J, October 27th The Court of Appeal dismisses an appeal from the Central Criminal Court and affirms a murder conviction where the victim had been lured to death with text messages, finding that 1), the arrest of the appellant had been lawful because there was statutory justification for the arresting member to execute the warrant, and 2), the identification of the appellant from CCTV footage, the CCTV footage itself and the analysis of contact between two mobile phones had all been properly admitted in evidence at trial.

Ciarán Joyce

The High Court did not have jurisdiction to grant a declaration of solicitors’ misconduct in claim by a bank. ACC Loan Management v Barry IECA 224, Court of Appeal, Hogan J, October 21st The Court of Appeal dismisses an appeal from High Court and affirms the refusal to grant a declaration that a solicitor had been guilty of misconduct in failing to comply with the terms of an undertaking to a bank concerning a conveyancing transaction, on the grounds that the High Court had not been vested with the original jurisdiction to grant such a declaration, and that the bank had not in any event established sufficient grounds to seek a direction for the solicitor to comply with such an undertaking.

Ciarán Joyce

Proceedings against a solicitor could continue despite errors in pleadings Donoghue v Nash IEHC 655 (High Court, Barrett J, October 22nd, 2015) The High Court refuses to strike out an action for negligence against a solicitor arising out of the settlement of personal injuries litigation, on the grounds that the solicitor had failed to establish that the claim was frivolous or vexatious, despite the fact that the statement of claim included errors and needed to be amended.

Shane Kiely BL

A mother’s claim of adoption without consent was statute barred. O’Dwyer v Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul IECA 226, Court of Appeal, Hogan J, October 21st The Court of Appeal dismisses an appeal from the High Court and affirms an order striking out the plaintiff’s claim that her infant son had been taken away from her in 1969 and given up for adoption without her consent, on the grounds that the failure to inform the plaintiff of her rights might have amounted to a breach of duty and given rise to a cause of action, but it did not amount to concealment by fraud. The claim was accordingly statute- barred.

Ciarán Joyce

The Industrial Development Agency could not compulsorily acquire land without identifying the particular use. Reid v Industrial Development Agency (2013) IESC 442, Supreme Court, McKechnie J, November 5th, 2015 The Supreme Court allows an appeal from the High Court and grants judicial review of a decision by the Industrial Development Authority to acquire lands by way of compulsory purchase.

It did so on the grounds that a), the IDA was seeking to acquire the lands without having identified a particular use or an undertaking that was likely to carry out industrial development, and the decision to acquire was thereby outside the terms of the relevant legislation; b), the position of the IDA’s chairman as a director of an independent consultancy group involved in identifying lands for development gave rise to a reasonable perception of objective bias.

Mark Tottenham

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