The high-profile cases scheduled for the new legal year

Catherine Nevin, Michael Lowry, Ian Bailey and the ‘unborn’ all face upcoming hearings

Can Catherine Nevin's conviction for the murder of her husband Tom be used by his relatives to disinherit her? Does the word "unborn" in the Constitution mean a "child" with rights extending beyond the right to life? Will the Government introduce a right to work for asylum seekers? Will Independent TD Michael Lowry overturn the Moriarty tribunal's refusal to pay his legal costs of several million?

These questions emerge from some of the thousands of cases listed before the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court as the new legal year opens on Monday.

A hugely significant High Court judgment on data protection rights is due on Tuesday when Ms Justice Caroline Costello will rule on the Data Protection Commissioner's bid to have the Court of Justice of the EU decide if European Commission-approved data transfer channels used by Facebook and others to send data to the US are valid or not. The judgment has potentially enormous implications for EU-US trade and the data privacy rights of millions of EU citizens.

Data protection issues are also at the core of Alan Shatter’s High Court appeal against the Data Protection Commissioner’s finding comments by Mr Shatter on RTÉ’s Prime Time about Independents4Change TD Mick Wallace breached his statutory obligations as minister under the Data Protection Acts. Judgment is pending on that appeal.

Mr Wallace is separately suing Mr Shatter over comments alleging the Wexford TD was stopped by gardaí for allegedly using a mobile phone while driving.

Moriarty tribunal

An appeal by another TD, Michael Lowry, opens on October 10th at the Court of Appeal after the High Court’ upheld the Moriarty tribunal’s refusal to pay two-thirds of his legal costs due to his non-co-operation with it.

Pending High Court cases include one by the family of a young brain-dead pregnant woman whose situation made headlines over Christmas 2015 when doctors sought clarity from the court over whether they could legally stop life-support treatment for her. Her family have sued the HSE alleging her death was preventable had the source of her headaches been diagnosed by a hospital after she went there.

A hearing date may also be set for a High Court case aimed at extending developer Seán Dunne’s Irish bankruptcy by five years over his alleged non co-operation with his bankruptcy trustee.

Another businessman, Denis O’Brien, maintains a presence in various courts. He has appealed the High Court’s dismissal of his case against the State over statements made by two TDs in the Dáil about his banking affairs. His separate case for alleged defamation against the Dublin-firm Red Flag Consulting continues to wend its way through the High Court and Court of Appeal.

Ian Bailey, whose extradition to France in connection with the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in west Cork in late 1996 was refused earlier this year, again appears on the list. The Court of Appeal will next week decide who must pay costs of his appeal over the rejection of his civil case for damages over the murder investigation.

The appeal court’s July judgment dismissed most of his appeal but left the way open for him to bring a fresh case over alleged leaking of information about the murder probe to the media by gardaí.

The Supreme Court must be told by late November what the State intends to do about the right to work for asylum seekers in light of the court’s ruling last May the absolute ban on asylum seekers seeking work is unconstitutional “in principle”.

The court gave the State six months to decide how to address the issue, raised by a Burmese man who spent eight years in direct provision unable to work until he got refugee status.

Public Accounts Committee conduct

The Supreme Court may also set a date for former Rehab chief executive Angela Kerins’ appeal against the High Court finding the State was not liable in damages to her over the conduct of two Public Accounts Committee hearings in 2014 into payments to Rehab.

An appeal with potentially enormous consequences, concerning whether the High Court was correct in finding the “unborn” is a “child” with rights extending beyond the right to life, may be heard by the Supreme Court. The State has sought a “leapfrog” appeal – directly to the Supreme Court rather than the Court of Appeal – in that case.

There will also be huge interest in the judgment on the legal challenge over the planned €850 million Apple plant in Athenry, due on October 12th.

Barrister Seán Guerin has already been permitted a leapfrog appeal over Alan Shatter’s successful challenge to sections of Mr Guerin’s May 2014 report concerning the former minister’s handling of complaints by Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe. The Supreme Court will also decide if Catherine Nevin’s murder conviction may be used in disinheritance proceedings by her husband’s relatives.

The criminal courts will also be busy. Journalist Tom Humphries is due for sentence next week for offences involving sexual exploitation and defilement of a child. Garda Detective Eve Doherty also faces sentencing later this month over conducting a campaign of harassment against Elizabeth Howlin, a solicitor in the Director of Public Prosecutions office.

On Monday, Tiarnan O'Mahoney, former chief operations officer at Anglo Irish Bank, is due for trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on charges of conspiring to conceal or alter bank accounts being sought by Revenue.

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