Haughey (& others) v Mr Justice Moriarty (& others) (Discovery)

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeMr. Justice Geoghegan
Judgment Date20 January 1998
Neutral Citation[1998] IEHC 6
Docket NumberNo. 15310 P/1997
CourtHigh Court
Date20 January 1998

[1998] IEHC 6

THE HIGH COURT

No. 15310 P/1997
HAUGHEY v. MORIARTY & CLERK OF DAIL EIREANN

BETWEEN

CHARLES J. HAUGHEY, MAUREEN F. HAUGHEY, EIMEAR MULHERN, ETHNA HAUGHEY AND MAUREEN HAUGHEY
PLAINTIFFS

AND

MR. JUSTICE MICHAEL MORIARTY, CLERK OF DAIL EIREANN, CLERK OF SEANAD EIREANN, IRELAND AND THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
DEFENDANTS

Citations:

TRIBUNALS OF INQUIRY (EVIDENCE) ACT 1921

AMBIORIX LTD V MIN FOR ENVIRONMENT (NO 1) 1992 1 IR 277

Synopsis

Practice and Procedure

Discovery; application; relevance; confidentiality; privilege; discovery sought against tribunal inquiring into plaintiff's financial affairs; discovery sought of documents issued in private investigatory phase of tribunal; whether documents relevant; whether public interest overides confidentiality Held: Discovery refused ( High Court: Geoghegan J.20/01/1998)

Haughey v. Moriarty

1

Judgment of Mr. Justice Geoghegan delivered the 20th day of January, 1998

2

This is a motion for discovery brought against the first named Defendant as sole member of a Tribunal established under the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act, 1921 as amended and against the fourth named Defendant, Ireland.

3

In order to put in context the application for discovery it is necessary to explain briefly the nature of the action itself. The Tribunal has been established to enquire into (among other matters) firstly whether any substantial payments were made to the first named Plaintiff during the period he held political office i.e. between the 1st January, 1979 and the 31st December, 1986, circumstances giving rise to a reasonable inference that the motive for making the payment was connected with any public office held by him or had the potential to influence the discharge of such office, secondly, the source of any money held in certain Ansbacher accounts for the benefit or in the name of the first named Plaintiff, or a person or company connected with him, thirdly, whether any payment was made from money held in any of these accounts to any person who holds or has held public office and fourthly whether the first named Plaintiff did any act or made any decision in the course of his ministerial offices to confer any benefit on any person making such a payment or any person who was the source of money of the kind referred to or on any other person in return for such payments being made or procured, or directed any other person to do such an act or make such a decision. There are a number of other matters to be enquired into under the terms of reference also but it is not necessary to detail these. The matters which I have referred to are couched in a summary or paraphrased form. The first named Plaintiff, Mr. Haughey, has launched these proceedings along with other members of his family from whom financial information was sought by the Tribunal to put a stop to the Tribunal of Inquiry insofar as to relates to the Plaintiffs. If the Plaintiffs" proceedings are successful the workings of the Tribunal will be halted at least insofar as they relate to the Plaintiffs and there can be no further enquiry under the existing terms of reference. The Plaintiffs in these proceedings have formulated a number of alternative grounds of attack on the Tribunal. These grounds of attack can be summarised as follows:-

4

1. That the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act, 1921 as amended is inconsistent with the Constitution and therefore does not form part of Iris Statute Law.

5

2. That Dail Eireann and Seanad Eireann acted unconstitutionally in directing the Taoiseach to establish a Tribunal of Inquiry into the matters set out in the resolutions of the Dail and Seanad.

6

3. That the Taoiseach's order establishing the Tribunal is invalid since the Dail and Seanad had been allegedly acting ultra vires.

7

4. That the first named Defendant as sole member of the Tribunal is conducting the Tribunal so far in a manner which infringes the Plaintiffs" constitutional rights and which is ultra vires the powers, conferred on him by the Tribunal of Inquiry (Evidence) Acts 1921 to 1997.

8

These contentions have all been put on issue on the pleadings.

9

As the lists of documents sought to be discovered in this motion as against the first named Defendant and the fourth named Defendant respectively are separate and distinct. I will deal first wit the documents sought against the first named Defendant. These documents are as follows:-

10

(a) all orders made by the Tribunal against any person, company or institution concerning any aspect of the Plaintiffs" affairs;

11

(b) all documents upon which any orders made by the Tribunal were based;

12

(c) all drafts of orders of discovery of the Tribunal;

13

(d) all correspondence between the Tribunal and institutions or persons against whom discovery orders have been made or sought:

14

(e) all requests for information (including documents) made by the Tribunal of any Government Department or T.D. seeking evidence or information concerning the Plaintiffs" affairs;

15

(f) any orders directed to any Government Department, Minister or T.D. seeking evidence or information concerning the Plaintiffs" affairs;

16

(g) any orders made by the Tribunal pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act, 1921 (as amended) deeming it prudent to have certain sittings in private;

17

(h) correspondence between the Tribunal and T.D.s. (past or present) concerning the receipt by them of monies or benefits in kind as referred to in the Tribunals terms of reference together with all replies or correspondence relevant to same;

18

(i) all correspondence or orders made against any political parties seeking information concerning donations covered by the period referred to in the terms of reference of the Tribunal;

19

(j) all statements provided by any party for whom the Tribunal has sought statements concerning the Plaintiffs or any of them;

20

(k) any documents containing details of any meetings between the Tribunal and any person concerning the Plaintiffs" affairs.

21

The 1921 Act permits the Tribunal, where it is appropriate, to conduct its proceedings in private. The first named Defendant as sole member of the Tribunal has exercised his discretion under that Act and has been conducting the investigative aspect of the Tribunal in private. The documents sought to be discovered are documents which were issued in the context of the private investigatory phase of the Tribunal's proceedings. Although the sole member of the Tribunal has been given many of the powers of a High Court Judge and although independently of the statutory powers, he must act judicially and constitutionally and therefore there will be the usual obligations of fair procedures involving compliance with the rules of natural and constitutional justice and the constitutional obligation to vindicate the good name of the first named Plaintiff. But it must be borne in mind that these functions of the sole member have to be...

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3 cases
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