Promissory note appeal 'urgent'

The Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Susan Denham, said the Supreme Court's list was heavily burdened and she would not grant the promissory note case priority at this point.

The Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Susan Denham, said the Supreme Court's list was heavily burdened and she would not grant the promissory note case priority at this point.

Thu, Feb 28, 2013, 00:00

Businessman David Hall has told the Supreme Court he is very concerned the Minister for Finance continues to have "unlimited powers" to spend public monies in support of financial institutions "without any reference to the Dáil".

That is one of the reasons Mr Hall wants an urgent hearing of his appeal against the High Court's decision he does not have legal standing to challenge the promissory note payments, under which €31 billion has been paid out to date, Ross Maguire SC said.

A further payment of €25 million was due in June and that was another reason the matter was urgent, he said.

Mr Maguire applied today for a priority hearing of the appeal but his application was resisted by Michael McDowell SC, for the State. The matter was not urgent on grounds including that, sicne Mr Hall's case was initiated, all the "really major" financial commitments had been transformed into long-term bonds, he said.

The Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Susan Denham, said the Supreme Court's list was heavily burdened and she would not grant the matter priority at this point but would try and give it a hearing date in the next law term, beginning after Easter. She also made directions for exchange of legal documents in the case.

Earlier, Mr Maguire said both the High and Supreme Courts had recognised the importance of the issues in the case related to Section 6 of the Credit Institutions Financial Supports Act. The State has claimed the promissory note payments could be made under that provision but Mr Hall disputes that.

Mr Maguire also said the High Court decision that Mr Hall had no legal standing to challenge the payments raised very important issues in the context of a citizen's right to come to court and challenge acts of the executive. The High Court decision casts a question mark over the citizen's right to litigate such a case, he said.

Mr McDowell said the developments in relation to the promissory notes meant there would be no impact whether or nor a citizen had a right to challenge such payments. Five TDs had lost their bid to be joined to this case but there was nothing stopping them bringing their own case, he said. Mr Hall's case "has lost all urgency", he said.

Replying, Mr Maguire said Mr Hall has no say on the issue whether or not a TD brought a case. The TDs may be waiting to see if Mr Hall's appeal secures priority, he added.

The legal standing point was very important and, in that regard, it did not matter whether the next promissory note payment due was €25 million or €3 billion, counsel added.

Last week, the Supreme Court refused to permit five TDs - Clare Daly, Luke Flanagan, Mick Wallace, Joan Collins and Catherine Murphy - to be joined to Mr Hall's appeal on the legal standing issue.

The central ground of Mr Hall's case is that, under the Constitution, the Dáil must authorise the State's financial expenditure but it never voted in favour of the promissory notes.

The State accepts there was no Dail vote but denies the specific mandate of the Dáil was required. It claims the notes could be lawfully issued under Section 6 of of the 2008 Act.

The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns previously ruled only a TD could challenge the notes.