Connolly v Minister for Finance

JurisdictionIreland
CourtSupreme Court (Irish Free State)
Judgment Date29 Jul 1925

Supreme Court.

Connolly v. Minister for Finance.
EDWARD CONNOLLY and WILLIAM CONNOLLY
Applicants
and
The MINISTER FOR FINANCE, Respondent (1)

Malicious injury - Trees cut down and carted away - Claim for compensation - No proof of ownership - Theft - Malice - Insufficiency of findings - Malicious Injuries (Ir.) Act, 1853 (16 & 17 Vict. c. 38), sect. 1 -Local Government (Ir.) Act, 1898 (61 & 62 Vict. c. 37), sect. 5 - Damage to Property (Compensation) Act, 1923 (No. 15 of 1923), sect. 6.

Case Stated by Mr. Commissioner Swayne K.C., acting as Commissioner under the County Court Appeals Act, 1924 (No. 57 of 1924), appointed to hear appeals from County Court Judges to Judges of Assize, which were pending at the commencement of Part II of the Courts of Justice Act, 1924. The case stated was as follows:—

"The applicants, who are timber merchants, claimed compensation under the Criminal Injuries Acts in respect of 175 growing trees, which had been purchased by them together with other timber from Lord de Freyne on his demesne lands at Erritt, Co. Roscommon. It was proved to my satisfaction that the trees in question were, on different dates, between November, 1921, and July, 1922, felled, cut, and carted away by a great number of persons resident in the neighbourhood. These trees had been felled in a manner which rendered the timber unsuitable for the purposes of the applicants.

The notice of application included, in addition to the claim for injury to growing trees, a claim for the loss of timber (on the same lands) which had also been purchased by the applicants, and had been felled by them, but was carted away by the same persons; but Mr. Leonard K.C., who appeared for the applicants, abandoned this portion of the claim.

Mr. Bewley, who appeared for the respondent, contended that the acts proved did not amount to malicious injury under the Acts, and were consistent with the intention to steal. Mr. Leonard quoted the case of Congested Districts Board v.Mayo County Council(1).

I held that I was bound by the authority cited and gave a decree for £175 with £7 6s. 3d. costs in the County Court, and £13 10s. costs and £1 1s. expenses on appeal.

At the request of the respondent, I now state this case for the opinion of the Supreme Court of Justice as to whether, on the facts found by me, I was precluded from awarding compensation under the Criminal Injuries Acts. If the Court is of opinion that I was so precluded, the application must be refused with £11 10s. costs."

The applicants, timber merchants, claimed compensation under the Criminal Injuries Acts in respect of 175 growing trees, which had been purchased by them, together with other timber, from F. on the latter's demesne lands. It was proved that the trees in question were, on different dates between November, 1921, and July, 1922, felled, cut, and carted away by a large number of persons resident in the neighbourhood. The trees had been felled in a manner which rendered them unsuitable...

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