Board of Governors of St. Laurence's Hospital v Staunton

JurisdictionIreland
Judgment Date01 January 1990
Date01 January 1990
Docket Number[1983 No. 7141P]
CourtSupreme Court

Supreme Court

[1983 No. 7141P]
Board of Governors of St. Laurence's Hospital v. Staunton
The Board of Governors of St. Laurence's Hospital
Defendants
and
Hugh Staunton, Third Party

Cases mentioned in this report:—

Gilmore v. WindleIR [1967] I.R. 323.

Buckley v. LynchIR [1978] I.R. 6.

A. & P. (Ireland) Ltd. v. Goldenvale Products (Unreported, High Court, McMahon J., 7th December, 1978).

Practice and procedure - Third party - Concurrent wrongdoer - Claim for contribution - Third-party notice not served until after trial of plaintiff's action - Joinder of third party - Whether "as soon as is reasonably possible" - Whether claim for contribution barred by non joinder of third party - Rules of the Superior Courts, 1986 (S.I. No. 15), O. 16, r. 1 - Civil Liability Act, 1961 (No. 41), s. 27, sub-s. 1.

Appeal from the High Court.

The facts are summarised in the headnote and as set out in the judgment of the Chief Justice, post. The appeal of the third party was argued before the Supreme Court on the 1st May, 1989.

Sections 21 and 31 of the Civil Liability Act, 1961, provide:—

  • 21.—(1) Subject to the provisions of this Part, a concurrent wrongdoer (for this purpose called the claimant) may recover contribution from any other wrongdoer who is, or would if sued at the time of the wrong have been, liable in respect of the same damage (for this purpose called the contributor), so, however, that no person shall be entitled to recover contribution under this Part from any person entitled to be indemnified by him in respect of the liability in respect of which the contribution is sought.

    • (2) In any proceedings for contribution under this Part, the amount of the contribution recoverable from any contributor shall be such as may be found by the court to be just and equitable having regard to the degree of that contributor's fault, and the court shall have power to exempt any person from liability to make contribution or to direct that the contribution to be recovered from any contributor shall amount to a complete indemnity.

31.—An action may be brought for contribution within the same period as the injured person is allowed by law for bringing an action against the contributor, or within the period of two years after the liability of the claimant is ascertained or the injured person's damages are paid, whichever is the greater.

Section 27, sub-s. 1 of the Civil Liability Act, 1961, provides:—

"(1) A concurrent wrongdoer who is sued for damages or for contribution and who wishes to make a claim for contribution under this Part —

  • (a) shall not, if the person from whom he proposes to claim contribution is already a party to the action, be entitled to claim contribution except by a claim made in the said action, whether before or after judgment in the action; and

  • (b) shall, if the said person is not already a party to the action, serve a third-party notice upon such person as soon as is reasonably possible and, having served such notice, he shall not be entitled to claim contribution except under the third-party procedure. If such third-party notice is not served as aforesaid, the court may in its discretion refuse to make an order for contribution against the person from whom contribution is claimed."

The plaintiff in the action was admitted to the defendants' hospital under the care of the third party, a consultant neurologist. On the 5th July, 1981, he fell from a window in the hospital and sustained serious injuries and in September, 1983, issued a plenary summons in the High Court against the defendants. The statement of claim was filed in November, 1983, and replies to the defendants' notice for...

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