Attorney General and Another v Ryan's Car Hire Ltd

JurisdictionIreland
CourtSupreme Court
Judgment Date01 January 1967
Date01 January 1967
Attorney General and Another v. Ryan's Car Hire Ltd.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL and THE MINISTER FOR DEFENCE
and
RYAN'S CAR HIRE LIMITED (1)

Supreme Court.

Judicial precedent - Rule of stare decisis - Validity - Whether Supreme Court bound by its own decisions.

Soldier - Wages - Wages and hospital expenses during incapacity - Soldier injured through negligence of third party - Minister for Defence continuing to pay soldier's wages during incapacity - Minister's claim to be reimbursed by third party - Case stated.

Restitution - Unjust enrichment - Liability of third party.

L. was a sergeant in the Air Corps, which is part of the Defence Forces. On the 19th May, 1959, he was seriously injured owing to the negligence of a servant of the defendants. As a result of his injuries he was detained in a civilian hospital and afterwards at a military hospital. During the period he was off duty he was paid the full amount of his wages and he was also maintained in the military hospital free. There was a very small daily deduction made from his pay during the time he was in hospital. L.'s case against the third party was settled and he received a substantial sum for damages. The case was settled on the basis of the settlement being without prejudice to any claim that might be maintained by the plaintiffs in the present proceedings. The plaintiffs then issued a civil bill, claiming the sum of £583 3s. 5d. damages. This amount was subsequently amended to £585 1s. 8d. The Circuit Court Judge gave judgment for the full amount of the amended claim and the defendants appealed from that judgment to the High Court. The appeal was heard by Henchy J., who stated a case for the opinion of the Supreme Court.

Held by the Supreme Court ( Ó Dálaigh ó dálaigh C.J., Lavery, Kingsmill Moore, Haugh and Walsh JJ.) 1, that the Supreme Court is not rigidly bound by the rule of stare decisis and is at liberty to refuse to follow previous decisions of the Court if it is satisfied that they were clearly wrong.

Minister for Finance and Attorney General v. O'Brien [1949] I. R. 91 andAttorney General and Minister for Posts and Telegraphs v. Coras Iompair Eireann90 I.L.T.R. 139 not followed; Monmouthshire County Council v.Smith[1956] 1 W. L. R. 1132 approved.

2, That the action per quod servitium amisit does not lie in respect of injuries to a servant of the State as the relationship of master and servant does not exist between the State and its servants;

3, That no part of the sum claimed by the plaintiffs could have been recovered by L. in his proceedings against the defendants as he had suffered no loss in respect thereof and accordingly the plaintiffs could not recover the sums from the defendants and had no cause of action; accordingly their action failed;

4, That a claim for certain sums based on the unjust enrichment of the defendants had not been pleaded and so the plaintiffs were not entitled to any relief on this principle.

The plaintiffs' claim was accordingly dismissed and the questions in the Case Stated were answered by stating that in the view of the Court those questions did not arise because no sustainable claim for damages had been pleaded.

Case Stated

"This is a Case Stated by me, Seamus Henchy, a Judge of the High Court, pursuant to s. 38, sub-s. 3, of the Courts of Justice Act, 1936 (No. 48 of 1936), for the opinion of the Supreme Court on the questions of law arising in an appeal from the Circuit Court, and at the request of counsel for the plaintiffs.

1. On the 1st June, 1950, Alfred Lawton enlisted as an apprentice mechanic in the Air Corps, part of the Defence Forces, under a recruitment scheme the conditions of which are set out in a Departmental circular of February, 1950, which circular" was attached to the Case Stated. "He remained a serving member of the Defence Forces until after the 9th January, 1960, at which time he had attained the non-commissioned rank of Sergeant.

2. On the 19th May, 1959, Sergeant Lawton was injured in a motor accident whilst off duty, which accident was caused by the negligence of the defendants' servant and agent. He received serious injuries and was brought to the nearest appropriate hospital, Dr. Steeven's Hospital, Kingsbridge, Dublin, where he came under the care of one of the consulting surgeons, Mr. J. Boyd Dunlop. When Sergeant Lawton was fit to be moved, he was transferred by order of his superior officer to the military hospital for Dublin, St. Bricin's Hospital, Dublin. It was not Sergeant Lawton's choice to go to St. Bricin's but, being subject to military discipline, he was instructed so to do as soon as he could be moved from Dr. Steeven's Hospital. Whilst in St. Bricin's, Sergeant Lawton continued to attend at irregular intervals at Dr. Steeven's Hospital for examination by Mr. Boyd Dunlop. Whilst in St. Bricin's, he received appropriate treatment for his injuries, including physiotherapy, and the care of the medical and nursing staff. As a term of service, Sergeant Lawton was entitled to free medical and hospital treatment, subject to limitations in respect of such treatment when made necessary by a cause outside active duty. This limitation is contained in Regulation 41 of Defence Force Regulations, S.3," a copy of which was attached to the case Stated."The result in Sergeant Lawton's case was a deduction of 1/71/2d. per day from his rate of pay.

3. Sergeant Lawton remained off duty until the 9th January, 1960, because of his injuries, and during that time appropriate arrangements presumably had to be made for his duties to be carried out by other Defence Forces personnel. During the period he was off duty he was paid his normal rate of pay, subject to the deduction aforesaid, to which payment he was by law entitled so long as he remained a member of the Defence Forces.

4. Sergeant Lawton instituted proceedings on his own behalf, claiming damages from the above-named defendants for his injuries, the nett loss of pay which he sustained, the Dr. Steeven's Hospital charges and Mr. Boyd Dunlop's fees. This action was settled for a substantial sum, but the settlement was without prejudice to the claim made in these proceedings." A copy of the statement of claim in Sergeant Lawton's action was attached to the Case Stated.

"5. For the promotion of good order and discipline in the Defence Forces it is considered desirable that Defence Forces personnel shall, as soon as it may reasonably be done, be transferred from a civil hospital to a military hospital to ensure better supervision and full investigation of the injuries or disabilities suffered.

6. On the 18th January, 1961, the plaintiffs instituted proceedings in the Circuit Court of Justice against the defendants, claiming on behalf of the People of Ireland £583 3s. 5d. damages for loss of services of the said Sergeant Lawton and for treatment and maintenance provided for him in an Army hospital.

7. The action came on for hearing on the 14th June, 1963, and the 26th July, 1963, upon which latter date Judge McGivern (having amended the amount of the claim from £583 4s. 5d. to £585 1s. 8d.) gave a decree for £585 1s. 8d. with costs and ordered that the sum of £180 lodged in Court with the defence be paid out to the plaintiffs in part payment of the decree.

8. From this judgment and order the defendants appealed, and the appeal came on for hearing before me on the 16th, 17th and 18th October, 1963.

9. The plaintiff's claim is divided into two parts:—

(a) £181 4s. 8d., being the nett amount of pay received by Sergeant Lawton while off duty and computed in accordance with the prevailing rate of pay less the deductions ordained by Regulation 41 aforesaid; (b) £403 17s. 0d., being the alleged cost of the hospital and medical treatment afforded to Sergeant Lawton in St. Bricin's Hospital.

10. The rate of charge in respect of the hospital and medical treatment is assessed by the plaintiffs in the following manner:—at intervals of three years the cost of operation of St. Bricin's Hospital and of the three other military hospitals is calculated in gross. The method of doing so is to take the actual cost of running each hospital during the preceding twelve months from the date of calculation. This includes an allowance for depreciation and administration, which are constant factors in the running of the hospital. The total cost is then divided by the number of 'patient-days' during the relevant twelve months. The figure produced is taken as the average cost per patient per day during that period and is used during the subsequent three-year period as the basis of charge, although, in fact, over the last three calculation periods the actual cost at any given time would have been greater than the cost charged on this basis, due to increasing costs in salaries, drugs, food, and other items. When the rate of charge for each hospital is arrived at, the sum is then averaged out over the four military hospitals, and, in the result, the rate in respect of St. Bricin's hospital was calculated for the relevant period at £2 9s. 3d., although the actual cost was £2 12s. 5d. The reduction was due to the lessor cost of the Curragh Military Hospital. The rate of charge claimed was one assessed in 1957, and, in fact, calculated on the same basis, the rate of charge during the relevant period would have been appreciably higher. The percentages of cost for the operation of the hospital and the provision of medical treatment were as follows:—

  • (1) Drugs and dressings

.1151
  • (2) Diet

.3750
  • (3) Staff

1.6934
  • (4) Consultations and operations

.0089
  • (5) Fuel

.1012
  • (6) Light

.0473
  • (7) Water

.0081
  • (8) Laundry and cleaning materials

.2760
  • (9) Depreciation

.1506
  • (10) Repairs renewals and maintenance

.1757
  • (11) Administration and office expenses

.0346

An amount of £0.1150 was deducted in respect of extern patients and receipts for X-Rays.

The above represent...

To continue reading

Request your trial
58 cases
  • DPP v Best
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 27 July 1999
    ...depart from the ratio where it is wrong in law, first established as a legal principle in Attorney General v. Ryan's Car Hire Limited, ( [1965] IR 642). However, as was pointed out in Mogul of Ireland Limited v. Tipperary (NR) County Council ( [1976] IR 260), the court must be clearly of ......
  • H (D) v Groarke & DPP
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 31 July 2002
    ...& SMYTH 2001 2 ILRM 198 RSC O.49 r6 DPP V FLYNN & KEELY 1996 ILRM 317 DPP V S K UNREP CIRCUIT 14.12.1999 AG & ANOR V RYANS CAR HIRE LTD 1965 IR 642 MOGUL OF IRELAND V TIPPERARY NR CO COUNCIL 1976 IR 260 NOLAN V IRISH LAND CMRS 1981 IR 23 Synopsis: PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE Discovery Crimin......
  • Merck & Co. Inc., Merck Sharp & Dohme Ltd y Merck Sharp & Dohme International Services BV contra Primecrown Ltd, Ketan Himatlal Mehta, Bharat Himatlal Mehta y Necessity Supplies Ltd y Beecham Group plc contra Europharm of Worthing Ltd.
    • European Union
    • Court of Justice (European Union)
    • 6 June 1996
    ...the judgment. (152) - Per Mr Justice Kingsmill Moore delivering the judgment of the Supreme Court in Attorney General v Ryan's Car Hire [1965] IR 642, 654; see generally Kelly, The Irish Constitution, Third edition by Hogan and Whyte, Butterworths, Dublin and London, 1994, pp. 532 to 539. (......
  • CK v JK and FMcG and Attorney General (notice parties)
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 31 March 2004
    ...AL 1972 34 DLR (3D) 403 QUINN, STATE V RYAN 1965 IR 70 MOGUL OF IRELAND V TIPPERARY (NR) CO COUNCIL 1976 IR 260 AG V RYAN'S CAR HIRE LTD 1965 IR 642, 101 ILTR 57 SMITH V CAVAN & MONAGHAN CO COUNCIL 1949 IR 322 IN THE MATTER OF ART 26 OF THE CONSTITUTION & S5 & S10 OF THE ILLEGAL IMMIGRA......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT