Brain injury case adjourned after positive antigen test due to resume

Barrister without face mask was told by judge to produce certificate of exemption

A High Court personal injuries action which was adjourned last week because a person involved in the proceedings had a positive antigen test is due to resume on Tuesday.

During last Wednesday's hearing of proceedings taken by 18-year-old Ashleigh Carroll over a brain injury, barrister Eamon Marray was instructed by Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds, who is a member of the judges committee dealing with Covid-19 issues, to wear a face covering.

When Mr Marray replied he had a certificate of exemption, the judge asked to see it.

He presented his phone but the judge said she would need to see a written certificate from a doctor.


Mr Marray withdrew from the court and agreed to participate in the case via Pexip, the video conferencing facility used by the Courts Service, until he could produce the written certificate.

The judge said shortly afterwards that anyone physically appearing in the court would have to wear a face mask.

The court had heard the plaintiff's mother, Louise Carroll, was medically vulnerable.

The case is by her daughter Ashleigh, who suffered a brain injury after being struck by a car when crossing a roadway in Coolock, Dublin, on October 20th 2016.

Ms Carroll, then aged 14, was walking to school when she was struck by a car driven by Dr Shereen El Mashad, who was working at Dublin's Beaumont Hospital at the time.

Liability was admitted in November 2020 and the case, against Dr El Mashad, and Axa Insurance, is before the court for assessment of damages only. The court was told the doctor has returned to her native Egypt and an Irish arrest warrant exists for her in relation to the accident.

The case was adjourned on Wednesday until this week after the judge was told the person who had had a positive antigen test was scheduled for a PCR test and the court would be updated in that regard.

The judge advised those who had attended the two day hearing to take an antigen test.

A statement by the Chief Justice and the presidents of all court divisions, including the High Court, in relation to the courts approach to the Covid-19 situation remains in force.

It states that all those attending any court venue are expected to strictly comply with current public health guidelines concerning physical distancing, frequent hand washing and respiratory etiquette.

While face coverings are not mandatory for those attending a court venue, in light of the public health guidelines as to the value of face coverings in reducing the spread of Covid 19, is “strongly recommended” that all persons, “save for those who for medical or other welfare considerations cannot wear a face covering, or who are behind a protective screen, should do so while on any court premises or within its precincts”.

This strong recommendation “applies with equal force to anyone giving evidence, questioning witnesses or addressing the court, unless they are doing so from behind a protective screen or the presiding judge considers the same prejudicial in all of the circumstances”, according to the statement.

The Courts Service is in charge of the courts but, when a judge is sitting in court, the judge is in charge of the courtroom.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times