Connelly v Wallace and Others

JurisdictionIreland
CourtSupreme Court
Judgment Date24 February 1938
Date24 February 1938

Supreme Court.

O'Conghaile v. Wallace and Others
TOMÁS omás O'CONGHAILE
Plaintiff
and
MICHAEL B. WALLACE, SEOIRSE MacNIOCAILL and HUBERT C. BURKE, Defendants. (1)

Circuit Court - Jurisdiction - Order giving leave to issue an order for attachment - Order for attachment issued - Plaintiff arrested and imprisoned thereunder - Both orders subsequently quashed on certiorari - Plaintiff released on habeas corpus application - Action for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment brought by plaintiff against person obtaining the orders, the County Registrar of the Circuit Court and the Prison Governor - Defence of justification as acts done under orders of Circuit Court Judge - Plaintiff's reply merely a joinder of issue - Omission to state, by way of special reply, that orders were quashed on certiorari - Insufficiency of pleading - Whether defendants entitled to judgment - How far order of inferior Court erroneous in form justifies acts done under it - Form of order in Circuit Court - Whether necessary to show jurisdictionex facie - Whether reviewable on certiorari - Alleged wrongful treatment of plaintiff while in prison - Prison rules - General Prisons (Ir.) Act, 1877 (40 & 41 Vict. c. 49), sects. 13 and 49 - County Officers and Courts (Ir.) Act, 1877 (40 and 41 Vict. c. 36), sects. 33, 34 - Courts of Justice Act, 1924 (No. 10 of 1924), sects. 48, 51, 56, 57 - Court Officers Act, 1926 (No. 27 of 1926), sect, 65, sub-sect. 2 - County Courts (Ir.) Orders, 1890, Or. XXXVI, r. 22 - Rules of the Supreme Court (Ir.),1905, Or. XIX, r. 16; Or. XLII, rr. 7, 8, 10 and 13; Or. XLIV, rr. 2and 3 - Rules of the High Court and Supreme Court, 1926, Or. XXIII - Rules of the Circuit Court, Or. XX; Or. XLI rr. 6 and 7 - Rules made by General Prisons Board for Ireland, 1915 (Stat. R. & Or., 1915,No. 347) - Practice - Procedure - Admission of documents.

Appeal from the judgment and order, dated 13th July, 1937, of the President of the High Court sitting with a jury when he withdrew the case from the jury and gave judgment for the defendants. The facts have been summarized in the headnote and are sufficiently stated in the judgment of FitzGibbon J.

The notice of appeal set out the following grounds of appeal:

That the trial Judge misdirected himself in law

  1. (a) in holding that, although a purported order of the Circuit Court under which the plaintiff was arrested and imprisoned was subsequently quashed and might be treated as null and void, it was necessary for the plaintiff, in order to succeed in the action, to establish impropriety of conduct or mala fideson the part of each defendant who procured the issue of, or issued, or acted under, the said purported order;

  2. (b) in holding that in an action for false imprisonment it is necessary for the plaintiff to show malice or want of bona fides on the part of the defendant;

  3. (c) in withdrawing the case from the jury notwithstanding the evidence given on behalf of the plaintiff that he, the plaintiff, was released from custody pursuant to the order of habeas corpus, dated the 2nd February, 1937;

  4. (d) in holding that a purported order of the Circuit Court which was subsequently quashed and might be treated as null and void was a sufficient justification for the arrest and imprisonment of the plaintiff thereunder;

  5. (e) in holding that there was no evidence given by the plaintiff to suggest that the defendant, Seoirse MacNiocaill, acted otherwise than in a purely ministerial capacity;

  6. (f) in holding that the burden of proof was on the plaintiff to show that his imprisonment was unlawful and unjustifiable and that his treatment whilst in prison was not in accordance with the statutory rules, and not on the defendants to show that the plaintiff's imprisonment was lawful and justifiable and his treatment in prison was duly authorised by statutory rules;

  7. (g) in holding that there was an order of the Circuit Court Judge directed to the defendant, Seoirse MacNiocaill, as County Registrar, to make up the purported order of the Circuit Court, dated the 7th August, 1936, and also on the grounds:—

That the trial Judge misdirected himself in fact in holding that there was an order of the Circuit Court Judge directed to the defendant, Hubert C. Burke, to detain the plaintiff in Limerick Prison.

That there was no evidence to support the finding of the trial Judge that the defendants, Seoirse MacNiocaill and Hubert C. Burke "felt called upon to carry out the order of the Circuit Court Judge by virtue of their position and what they thought was their duty."

That by reason of the trial Judge withdrawing the case from the jury at the close of the evidence for the plaintiff, notwithstanding the evidence given of the arrest and imprisonment of the plaintiff, the trial of the action was insufficient, incomplete and unsatisfactory.

That the trial Judge misdirected himself in law in holding that there was no evidence from which a jury could find that the plaintiff's treatment whilst in the custody of the defendant, Hubert C. Burke, was contrary to the statutory rules for the treatment of persons imprisoned for contempt.

In June, 1935, W. brought proceedings in the Circuit Court against O'C. and others, claiming an injunction to restrain them from interfering with his exclusive right of fishing in a certain lake. The Circuit Court Judge granted the injunction but O'C. disobeyed it, and W. served a notice of motion for an order of committal against O'C. for such disobedience. When the motion was heard on the 4th August, 1936, the Circuit Court Judge made an order that W. be at liberty to issue an order directed to the Commissioner and Officers of the Gárda Síochána and to the Governor in charge of Limerick Prison for attachment against O'C. for his contempt in disobeying the said injunction. Pursuant to this order a further order was made on the 7th August, 1936, and was forwarded, with the order giving leave to issue it, by the solicitors for W. to the Commissioner of the Gárda Síochána, and O'C. was arrested and delivered into custody of the Governor of Limerick Prison.

On February 2nd, 1937, an order for habeas corpus for the release of O'C. was granted by Gavan Duffy J. and O'C. was discharged from custody.

On April 30, 1937, in default of cause shown, O'Byrne J. made absolute a conditional order of certiorari to quash the order of the Circuit Court Judge of the 4th August and also the order of the 7th August issued pursuant to it.

O'C. then brought an action against W. and the County Registrar of the Circuit Court, and the Governor of Limerick Prison, claiming damages for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment. He alleged a conspiracy between W. and the County Registrar to cause him to be arrested and imprisoned, and he also alleged that the Governor of Limerick Prison did not afford him, while in prison, the special treatment to which he was entitled, the Circuit Court Judge's order being one for "attachment." In addition to traverses, the defendants relied upon the said two orders of the Circuit Court as justification for the acts done by them. The plaintiff in his reply did not plead that such orders had been subsequently quashed. Nevertheless at the trial the plaintiff sought to put in evidence, and rely upon the orders of habeas corpus and certiorari. The defendants objected, but the trial Judge (the President of the High Court) admitted them. The two orders made by the Circuit Court Judge were put in evidence by the plaintiff. Eventually the President withdrew the case from the

jury and directed a verdict for all the defendants. The plaintiff applied to the Supreme Court for a new trial.

Held by the Supreme Court (FitzGibbon, Murnaghan and Meredith JJ.) that as the issue of fact raised by the defence was whether at the time of plaintiff's arrest there was in existence an order of the Circuit Court authorising that arrest, it was not open to the plaintiff under a mere traverse of that allegation to prove that a subsequent order of the High Court had been made quashing the order upon which the defendants relied. The reply should have stated specifically that the orders of the Circuit Court had been quashed and the grounds therefor. The orders of certiorari and habeas corpus should not have been admited, and the position then would have been that the orders of the Circuit Court upon which the defendants relied for justification were proved and in evidence, and there was no plea and no legal evidence that they had been set aside, and the two defendants, W. and the County Registrar, were entitled to judgment on their defences, (Meredith J. preferring not to rest his judgment on this point of pleading but to treat the objection as having been waived by the course of proceedings.)

Held also that the Circuit Court Judge had jurisdiction to make the order of attachment and therefore it was a justification for all acts done in pursuance of it until it was set aside, even though it did not show jurisdiction on its face, though FitzGibbon J. was of opinion that such an order need not show jurisdiction on its face, Murnaghan J. being of opinion that the order was correct in form, and Meredith J. not deciding whether the order should show jurisdiction on its face or not.

Held also that the allegation of conspiracy between W. and the County Registrar as to obtaining the plaintiff's arrest and imprisonment was entirely unsustainable.

Held further by FitzGibbon and Murnaghan JJ., Meredith J. dissenting, that the allegation that the plaintiff did not receive proper treatment while in prison was also unsustainable.

Accordingly the Supreme Court held that the plaintiff's application for a new trial must be refused in the case of the defendants W. and the County Registrar, and by FitzGibbon and Murnaghan JJ., Meredith J. dissenting, that it must also be refused in the case of the Governor of Limerick Prison, Meredith J. being of opinion that the plaintiff was entitled to a new...

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2 cases
  • The State (Burke) v Lennon and Attorney General
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 15 December 1940
    ...was obtained on February 9th, 1940. (4) [1937] I. R. 699. (5) [1921] 1 I. R. 265. (6) [1928] A. C. 459. (7) [1935] I. R. 170. (8) [1938] I. R. 526. (9) [1935] I. R. (10) 15 App. Cas. 506. (11) [1923] A. C. 603. (1) [1923] A. C. 603. (2) [1929] I. R. 582. (3) [1933] I. R. 299. (4) [1936] I. ......
  • Gildea v Hipwell
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 22 May 1942
    ...not per se entitle him to succeed in an action for damages for false imprisonment. Dictum of FitzGibbon J. in O'Conghaile v. WallaceIR, [1938] I. R. 526, at p. 559, applied. (2) The committal order was not in the nature of an order for attachment or a writ of execution which required to be ......

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