Carroll v Ryan

JurisdictionIreland
CourtSupreme Court
JudgeHardiman J.
Judgment Date21 Jan 2003
Neutral Citation[2003] IESC 1
Docket Number[S.C. Nos.

[2003] IESC 1

THE SUPREME COURT

McGuinness J.

Hardiman J.

McCracken J.

166/01
128/02
CARROLL v. RYAN & ROGERS & LAW SOCIETY OF IRELAND

Between:

EAMON CARROLL and MARY CARROLL
Appellants

and

CHRIS RYAN, JOHN ROGERS and THE LAW SOCIETY OF IRELAND
Respondents
IN THE MATTER OF THE SOLICITORS' ACTS AND THE APPRENTICES REGULATIONS

Between:

EAMON CARROLL
Applicant

and

THE LAW SOCIETY OF IRELAND
Respondents

Citations:

CARROLL V LAW SOCIETY OF IRELAND & AG 2000 1 ILRM 161

LAW SOCIETY OF IRELAND V CARROLL & ORS 1996 2 ILRM 95

COMPETITION ACT 1991 S5

SOLICITOR'S ACTS 1954 – 1994 (APPRENTICESHIP & EDUCATION) REGS 1997 25(D) SI 287/1997

EUROPEAN CONVENTION RIGHT OF EQUALITY ART 14

TREATY OF ROME ART 86

TREATY OF ROME ART 85

COMPETITION ACT 1991 S4

HENDERSON V HENDERSON 3 HARE 100

RUSSELL V WATERFORD & LIMERICK RAILWAY CO 1885 16 LR IR 314

COX V DUBLIN CITY DISTILLERY (NO. 2) 1915 1 IR 345

BARROW V BANKSIDE 1996 1 LLR 278

JOHNSON V GORE WOOD 2002 WLR 72

WOODHOUSE V CONSIGNA 2002 2 AER 737 2002 1 WLR 2558

Synopsis:

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE

Abuse of process

Professions - Apprentice solicitor - Repeated actions concerning same subject matter - Private and public interest in efficient conduct of litigation (166/2001 - Supreme Court - 21/01/03)

Carroll v Ryan - [2003] 1 IR 309 - [2003] 2 ILRM 1

Facts: Mr. Carroll appealed against two orders of the High Court striking out proceedings as an abuse of process. Findings had been made against Mr. Carroll, who was an apprentice solicitor, to the effect that he was not a fit and proper person to be admitted as a solicitor. Mr. Carroll commenced plenary and judicial review proceedings. As part of these proceedings, Mr. Carroll sought to make a competition law argument. None of the proceedings led to a judgment or settlement on this point. Mr. Carroll sought to reagitate the competition point in an application for review.

Held by the Supreme Court (Hardiman J.) in dismissing Mr. Carroll’s appeals that there was a well established rule whereby a litigant may not make the same contention in legal proceedings, which might have been but was not brought forward in previous litigation. To permit Mr. Carroll to continue to pursue the competition point would be oppressive to the defendant and would interfere gravely with both the private and public interest in the efficient conduct of litigation.

1

Hardiman J. delivered the 21st day of January, 2003 .

2

These are two appeals by Eamon Carroll against orders made in the above entitled respective proceedings. Since each set of proceedings is closely related to the other in certain essential aspects, and since the history of one is incomprehensible without the history of the other, I propose to resolve both appeals in a single judgment.

3

Mr. Carroll's first appeal is against the order of the High Court (Mr. Justice Kelly) made on the 2 nd May, 2001 whereby the learned trial judge struck out proceedings against the Law Society on the basis that they were an abuse of the Courts process. He awarded the costs to the Society. The second appeal is against the decision of the High Court (Morris P.) made the 13 th June, 2001. On that day the learned President ordered that ground three of Mr. Carroll's Notice of Application to review the decision of a committee of the Law Society be struck out as an abuse of process.

4

In giving the judgment leading to the first of the orders appealed against, Kelly J. observed "This is a further chapter of a saga that has gone on for some time". That is a restrained statement of the complexity and duration of the disputes between Mr. Carroll and the Law Society. Some summary of these disputes must be offered if this judgment is to be comprehensible.

5

On the 7 th January, 1991 Mr. Carroll was apprenticed to Chris Ryan Solicitor of 18 North King Street, Dublin. On the 16 thFebruary, 1993 an accountant was appointed by the Law Society to conduct an inspection of Mr. Ryan's practice. It transpired that Mr. Ryan had a branch office in Rialto said to be run by the appellant, his apprentice. It was also said that the appellant did the books of the practice conducted in that office. These books had significant inaccuracies.

6

Mr. Carroll (hereafter "the appellant") had previously been apprenticed to a brother of his, Mr. Donal Carroll. The latter was struck off the role of solicitors by the High Court in 1983, with the appellant's apprenticeship uncompleted. During the intervening years the appellant worked with his brothers in a business called Accident Claims Services which operated in Dorset Street. When the services of a solicitor were required in connection with the business of accident claims service, that entity instructed Mr. Christopher Ryan to issue proceedings. For a fuller account of this aspect of the background to the present appeals see the judgment of the High Court (McGuinness J.) in Eamon Carroll v. Law Society of Ireland and the Attorney General [2000] 1 ILRM 161.

7

Arising out of the investigating accountant's report both the appellant and Mr. Chris Ryan were questioned by the Compensation Fund Committee of the Law Society. Mr. Ryan advised the Committee that he did all the legal work for Accident Claim Service and that he only got this work because the appellant was his apprentice.

8

Subsequently, in the summer of 1993 Mr. Ryan made further serious and specific allegations against the appellant.

9

Despite this history, on the 2 nd September, 1993 Mr. Ryan furnished to the Law Society a document known as "Declaration of Master". The effect of this was that he (Mr. Ryan) knew nothing which suggests that the appellant was not a fit and proper person to be admitted to the role of solicitors.

10

On the 3 rd December, 1993 the Society issued a plenary summons against the appellant claiming that he was unlawfully holding himself out to be a solicitor. These proceedings were subsequently dismissed on the basis that the relief related to breaches of the criminal law alleged against the applicant and should be resolved in criminal rather than in civil proceedings. See the report of this case at [1996] 2 ILRM 95.

11

On the 13 th December the Director of Education of the Law Society signed a notice of complaint of misconduct against the appellant. On the 21 st December, 1995 the appellant applied to the Society to forward his name to the President of the High Court with a view to his been admitted as a solicitor. The Society did not take this step since the Education Committee was not satisfied that he was a fit and proper person to be a solicitor. On the 14 th May, 1996 there was a hearing before the Education Committee of the Law Society at which the appellant was represented by solicitor and counsel. Arising from this, judicial review proceedings were commenced by the appellant against the Society, pursuant to the order of Kelly J. granting leave made the 22 nd July, 1996. These proceedings-were decided by a further judgment of the High Court (McGuinness J.) on the 19 thJanuary, 1999: the reference to this in the Law Reports is given above. In the course of this judgment most of the appellant's claims were dismissed but it was held that the Education Committee designated to hold an inquiry into the appellant's fitness to be a solicitor could not proceed without an element of lay participation.

12

Following this judgment the Law Society appointed the former Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Finlay to sit together with Ms. Ann Colley and Mr. Simon Murphy, solicitors, as the Education Committee of the Society. This Committee held the hearing over seven days between the 30 th November, 1999 and the 13 th January, 2000. The appellant was represented by solicitor and counsel. The Committee issued its report on the 13 th March, 2000 to the President of the High Court, finding that the appellant was not, in the opinion of the Committee, a fit and proper person to be admitted as a solicitor. The Committee made certain express findings and in particular dismissed each of the following submissions which the appellant had made:-

13

(i) That the Society was estopped from the finding of misconduct against him because of its failure to institute disciplinary proceedings against Mr. Ryan, or to call this gentleman as a witness.

14

(ii) That the Society was estopped from obtaining any finding of misconduct against Mr. Carroll because of its failure to call a witness from the Society to answer a charge made by Mr. Carroll that the proceedings against him were maliciously instituted.

15

(iii) That the proceedings against Mr. Carroll were a breach of his right to equal treatment in the absence of a simultaneous or prior proceeding against Mr. Ryan.

16

(iv) That the proceedings against Mr. Carroll were an abuse of dominant position contrary to Section 5 of the Competition Act, 1991.

17

It should in fairness be recorded that many of the specific allegations against the Appellant were dismissed.

18

This decision of the Education Committee led to the institution of the first (though not first in time) set of proceedings with which the Court is now concerned. On the 18 th April, 2000 the appellant issued a notice of application to review the decision of the Education Committee pursuant to Regulation 25(d) of the Solicitors' Acts, 1954– 1994 (Apprenticeship and Education) Regulations, 1997 ( StatutoryInstrument No. 287 of 1997). Ground 3 of this notice was in the following terms:-

"In so far as an adverse conclusion was reached in connection with the applicant's activities while he was apprenticed to Christopher Ryan, in view of Mr. Ryan's knowledge of and authorising/condoning these activities and of the respondent or its disciplinary committee never taking steps to discipline Mr. Ryan in respect of those events and activities, even after the Supreme Court had in effect directed the...

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