Attorney General and Minister for Justice v Dublin United Tramways Company

CourtHigh Court
Judgment Date01 January 1940
Date01 January 1940
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice v. Dublin United Tramways Co., Ltd.

Master and servant - Member of Civic Guard - Injury to, by tortfeasor - Injury causing incapacity for duty - Claim by People of Éire éire against tortfeasor for loss of Guard's services - Whether relationship of master and servant exists between the People and a member of the Civic Guard - Measure of damages - Whether Attorney-General entitled to represent the People in an action against tortfeasor.

Appeal from the Circuit Court.

On the 5th July, 1935, Michael J. Dillon, a member of the Civic Guard, employed as warrant officer in the Donnybrook District of the Metropolitan Division, met with an accident while performing his duties. Dillon was cycling along Castlewood Avenue, Rathmines, when a wheel of his bicycle became caught in a defectively laid portion of the tram line, the property of the defendants, the Dublin United Tramways Co. (1896) Ltd. He was thrown from his bicycle and suffered a fracture of the right tibia which incapacitated him from duty for two periods, of 183 days and 240 days, respectively. Before the initiation of the present proceedings, Dillon brought an action against the defendants for damages for negligence; this action was settled out of Court, the defendants paying Dillon £300 in settlement of all claims for damages and costs.

Dillon entered the Dublin Metropolitan Police Force on the 18th June, 1920. By s. 5 of the Police Forces Amalgamation Act, 1925 (No. 7 of 1925), the Dublin Metropolitan Police Force was amalgamated with the Civic Guard, and, by s. 8 of that Act, the "general direction and control of the amalgamated force" was vested in the Commissioner of the Civic Guard. Sect. 10, sub-s. 5, of the Act provided that, subject to sub-s. 2 of the same section (which transferred members of the Dublin Metropolitan Police Force to positions of equivalent rank in the amalgamated force)"the men of the amalgamated force shall be enrolled and appointed and (whether so enrolled and appointed or appointed by virtue of the said sub-s. 2) may be from time to time promoted, degraded, suspended, or dismissed by the Commissioner of the amalgamated force in accordance with regulations made under or continued by this Act."By s. 14 of the Act, the Minister for Justice was empowered, subject to the approval of the Executive Council, to make regulations governing the internal management of the amalgamated force; by s. 12, sub-s. 1, of the Act, the Minister for Justice was empowered, subject to the approval of the Minister for Finance, to make regulations governing rates of pay and allowances.

During the period of Dillon's incapacity for duty he was paid sums amounting to £270 18s. 5d. It was admitted by the defendants that these sums had been correctly calculated under the provisions of the Gárda SÃochána Allowances Order, 1926, the Gárda SÃochána Pay Order, 1927, and the Gárda SÃochána Allowances Order, 1929. It was not admitted nor was it established by the plaintiffs that there was any legal liability on the plaintiffs to make these payments to a Guard in respect of a period when he was unfit for duty. During this period, Dillon's work was done by another member of the force, at no extra pay.

In their Civil Bill the plaintiffs "for and on behalf of the people of Éire" éire" claimed the sum of £270 18s. 5d. from the defendants "for loss sustained by the people of Éire éire by reason of the negligence, breach of duty of, and nuisance committed by, the defendants, their servants and agents in and about the construction and maintenance of tramway rails and tracks at Castlewood Avenue, Rathmines, in the City of Dublin, on the 5th July, 1935, whereby Gárda Michael J. Dillon, a warrant officer of the Dublin Metropolitan Division of An Gárda SÃochána, then in the employment of the service of Saorstát Éireann éireann, was seriously injured and incapacitated from performing his duties in such employment."

After setting out particulars of the negligence alleged, the Civil Bill continued:—"By reason of the matters aforesaid, Gárda Dillon was incapacitated from duty in the employment of the plaintiffs from 5th July, 1935, to 4th January, 1936, and from 15th November, 1936, to 13th July, 1937, during which periods the people of Éire éirewere deprived of the services of Gárda Dillon, and there was paid to him in respect of wages and...

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