Barrington's Hospital v Commissioner of Valuation

CourtSupreme Court
Judgment Date01 January 1958
Date01 January 1958

Supreme Court.

Barrington's Hospital v. Commissioner of Valuation.

Rates - Rating - Public voluntary hospital Poor patients treated free - Some patients paid for by local authority or other bodies - Some patients paying small sums - Some patients paying full amount of maintenance - Whether hospital "used exclusively for charitable purposes" - Whether hospital"dedicated to or used exclusively for charitable purposes" - Grant in aid made to hospital annually by local authority - Hospital distinguished as exempt in valuation lists until 1951 - Hospital then valued - Appeal against valuation - Case stated - Meaning of "charitable purposes" - Poor Relief (Ir.) Act, 1838 (1 & 2 Vict., c. 56), s. 63 - Valuation (Ir.) Act,1852 (15 & 16 Vict., c. 63), s. 16 - Valuation (Ir.) Act, 1854 (17 & 18Vict., c. 8), s. 2.

Case Stated by the Circuit Court Judge for the South Western Circuit under the provisions of s. 16 of the Courts of Justice Act, 1947.

The Case Stated was as follows:—

"This is a Case Stated by me, Barra O Briain, Circuit Court Judge for the South Western Circuit, sitting at Limerick, pursuant to s. 16 of the Courts of Justice Act, 1947, for the opinion of the Supreme Court."

"1. The committee of management of Barrington's Hospital and City of Limerick Infirmary (hereinafter called 'The Hospital') by notice of appeal, dated the 16th day of February, 1952, appealed to the Circuit Court against the valuation of the Hospital contained in the finally revised valuation lists for the year 1951 upon the ground that the premises being used exclusively for charitable purposes or alternatively being of a public nature and used for public purposes should be distinguished by the Commissioner of Valuation in pursuance of s. 2 of the Valuation (Ir.) Act, 1854, and should be exempt. Prior to the year 1951 the Hospital was distinguished in the valuation lists as being used exclusively for charitable purposes and was exempt. A further ground of appeal, that the amount of the valuation was excessive, was withdrawn at the hearing before me. There are incorporated herewith a copy of the said notice of appeal and a copy certified extract from the valuation lists for the year ended the 29th February, 1952, of the valuation of the Hospital.

2. The Hospital is a public voluntary hospital, situate at George's Quay in the City of Limerick, and was founded in the year 1830 by Joseph Barrington and his sons for the benefit of the Poor of the City of Limerick, and by an Act of Parliament of that year (11 Geo. 4, c. lxxii) the Hospital was constituted the hospital or infirmary for the city and county of the City of Limerick, and provisions were made for its management and direction. The property of the Hospital is vested in the governors who are a body corporate and all the affairs and business of the Hospital are conducted by a committee of management elected annually. The committee of management are the occupiers of the Hospital. The Hospital participated in the sweepstakes provided under the Public Charitable Hospitals Acts, 1930 to 1932, and is a participating hospital in the sweepstakes held under the Public Hospitals Acts, 1933 to 1940, and is subject to the supervision exercised by the Hospitals Commission.

3. Additions were made from time to time to the original Hospital building and the premises the subject-matter of this appeal are shown on the map" [which was incorporated with the Case Stated] "and consist of the following:—

(a) The main Hospital building erected by the Barrington family in 1829 and lettered 'A' on the map.

(b) A nurses' home erected in 1934 at a cost of £9,000, lettered 'B' on the map, and which was paid for by monies received from the Hospitals Sweepstakes.

(c) An extension to the nurses' home erected in 1950 at a cost of £25,000 and lettered 'O' on the map. The Hospital received a grant of £7,000 from the Minister for Health towards the cost of this building and paid the balance of the cost by the sale of invested Sweepstake monies. These buildings are internally connected and form structurally one united building.

4. The accommodation in the Hospital for in-patients consists of eighty-four beds which may be classified as follows:—

(a) There are five private wards containing one bed each.

(b) There are two semi-private wards containing five beds each.

(c) There is a children's ward containing thirteen beds.

(d) There are two emergency beds for accident cases.

(e) The remaining fifty-four beds are contained in a number of public general wards.

5. The Hospital maintains a general extern department and also provides specialist treatment for extern patients in the specialist department of the Hospital, such as the ophthalmic department and the ear, nose and throat department. Particulars of the services provided for extern patients during the years 1945 to 1950 are contained in the annual reports of the Hospital for the said years" [which were incorporated with the Case Stated.]

6. The method of admission of in-patients is that all urgent cases for whom suitable accommodation is available are admitted by the resident medical officer. Patients who are not urgent cases are admitted only upon a written recommendation from one of the governors and in practice such recommendations are obtained from the honorary physicians or surgeons, who are governors. The admission of wholly free patients is confined to the poor of Limerick City. Patients able to pay either the full charge or a reduced charge are admitted without territorial qualifications and any such patients for whom suitable accommodation is available can obtain admission by applying to any of the honorary physicians or surgeons for a recommendation."There was incorporated with the Case Stated a copy table showing the geographical distribution of in-patients for the year 1950.

7. In-patients who are maintained and treated in the Hospital comprise patients being maintained and treated wholly free, patients who are paid for by local authorities or by the National Health Insurance branch of the Department of Social Welfare or by other bodies, e.g., Government departments and British War Pensions Committee, patients paying reduced charges and private patients paying the full hospital charges. The charges paid by local authorities and by the National Health Insurance authority are fixed by the Minister for Health and the Minister for Social Welfare, respectively, and corresponding charges are made by the Hospital for patients sent by other bodies. The sums charged to in-patients who are paying or contributing to the costs of maintenance and treatment are based upon the average cost of maintenance of patients in the Hospital. The average cost of maintenance of a patient in the Hospital in 1950 was £5 1s. 5d. per week, and in 1951 £5 11s. 7d. per week, and while the figure for 1952 cannot at present be ascertained it will be not less than the figure for 1951. In-patients may be classified as regards charges and the manner in which they are accommodated as follows:—

(a) Poor patients from the City of Limerick are maintained and treated wholly free of charge. The Limerick Corporation which, as the public assistance authority, is bound to provide such patients with free medical and hospital benefit, makes an annual grant in aid to the Hospital of £400. The wholly free patients are accommodated in the public general wards of the Hospital.

(b) The Minister for Health fixes the charges paid by local authorities for patients sent by them to the Hospital and similar rates are fixed by the Minister for Social Welfare in respect of patients who are insured under the former National Health Insurance Acts. The great majority of local authority patients are sent to the Hospital by the Limerick County Council but such patients may be sent by any local authority. Certain other bodies, such as Government departments and the British War Pensions Committee, send patients and the Hospital charges for such patients at the rates fixed by the Minister for Health in respect of local authority patients. All these patients are accommodated in the public general wards or in the semi-private wards of the Hospital. The rate payable in respect of local authority patients as from the 1st July, 1950, to the 1st January, 1952, was £4 4s. 0d. per week, and the same rate was payable in respect of National Health Insurance patients as from the 1st August, 1950. As from the 1st January, 1952, these rates were fixed at £5 5s. 0d. per week, but the revised rate is fully inclusive of the cost of special drugs and services with the exception of deep X-ray therapy and special charge for chloromycetin and certain other expensive drugs and blood transfusions hitherto allowed was discontinued. The arrangements in respect of public authority patients and National Health Insurance patients are more fully set out in a circular letter dated the 23rd June, 1950, from the Hospitals Commission,"[a copy of which was incorporated with the Case Stated]"and a further letter, dated the 28th February, 1952, from the Hospitals Commission" [a copy of which was also incorporated with the Case Stated]. "In the case of patients received from bodies other than the local authorities and National Health Insurance patients while the Hospital charges at the rate applicable to local authority patients, it charges as an addition for the cost of any special drugs and services.

(c) The five private wards are usually occupied by private patients, that is, patients paying their Hospital doctors, but are available for any class of patient in an emergency. During 1950 and 1951 the charge for private patients was £5 5s. 0d. per week, which was increased to £6 6s. 0d. per week in 1952, when the charge for local authority patients was fixed at £5 5s. 0d. per week...

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