Curtin & Ors -v- The Irish Coursing Club, [2009] IEHC 175 (2009)

Docket Number:2006 881 JR
Party Name:Curtin & Ors, The Irish Coursing Club
Judge:Herbert J.
 
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THE HIGH COURT

JUDICIAL REVIEW 2006 881 JR

BETWEEN

PATRICK CURTIN, DENIS GOULD AND VINCENT JONES ALSO KNOWN AS THE CURTIN GOULD JONES SYNDICATE AND BRIDGET CURTINAPPLICANTSAND

THE IRISH COURSING CLUBRESPONDENTSJUDGMENT of Mr. Justice Herbert delivered on the 6th day of March 2009

By a letter dated the 13th March, 2006, the Chief Executive and Secretary of the Irish Coursing Club, (hereinafter referred to as "the Club") advised the applicants that a sample of urine taken from a greyhound dog called Boavista, after the running of the J.P. McManus Irish Cup, which race Boavista had won, was found on analysis to contain amphetamine. Enclosed with this letter was a "Certificate of Analysis No: PC 01-75" dated the 8th March, 2006 and, signed by James F. Healy, Head of Laboratory and authorised signatory on behalf the National Greyhound Laboratory, Limerick. It was accepted by the applicants at the hearing of this application for judicial review, that the above mentioned race was run at Limerick Greyhound Race Track on the 26th February, 2006, and, was also accepted that amphetamine is a prohibited substance.

This Certificate, which was addressed to the Club states that a urine sample, bearing Client Sample Identification Code, D.026 and Laboratory Sample Identification Code, MS 07038 was received on the 27th February, 2006, that an analysis started on that date using National Greyhound Laboratory Methods, SOPSPE 01 Conf and I0IGCMS 01 Conf. and, that the analysis of the sample showed the presence of amphetamine. This letter of the 13th March, 2006, advised the applicants that an enquiry would be held in due course and that they would be advised of the date and time.

By a letter dated the 3rd April, 2006, the first and fourth named applicants, on behalf of all the applicants, were asked to attend an enquiry to be conducted by the General Purposes Sub-Committee of the Club, on Monday, 8th May, 2006, at 2.30 pm, as to whether the drug amphetamine was present in Boavista at the Irish Cup Meeting on the 26th February, 2006, and, whether the applicants were in breach of Rule 88 of the Rules of the Club. This letter advised that in the event of such a breach being established, the applicants would be subject to the penalties set out in Rule 88 and, that the applicants could, if they wished, be represented at the enquiry by a legal advisor. The holding of this enquiry was adjourned, at the request of the applicants on the 8th May, 2006, and 3rd July, 2006, and, at their request was re-scheduled to take place on the 24th July, 2006.

Rule 88 of the Rules of the Club is in the following terms:-

"A.-(1) The Stewards of the meeting shall have power at anytime to order an examination by a Veterinary Surgeon appointed by the Stewards of any greyhound entered for a meeting or which has run at a meeting. If they order a sample of urine or a sample of vomition or a sample of blood or other fluid or substance to be taken from a greyhound for analysis, such greyhound shall be detained at such place or places as the Stewards may appoint until a sample has been obtained. The taking of any such sample shall be in the presence of either the owner, trainer or any person in control of the greyhound at the time and the Steward of the meeting. The owner, trainer or any person in control of the greyhound at the time may, if he so wishes, have a Veterinary Surgeon of his choice present when a sample of blood is being taken from a greyhound under his care. The non-availability of a Veterinary Surgeon of an owner's choice shall not impede or delay the taking of a blood sample. The greyhound concerned shall not be removed subsequent to the taking of such sample, until permitted to do so by the Stewards who ordered the sample to be taken.

(2) Should the owner, trainer or any person in control of the greyhound at the time, so wish, the total amount of the sample shall be halved in his presence and placed in separate receptacies and securely fastened and sealed. The first sample shall then be dispatched to an analyst chosen by the Executive Committee and the second dispatched by the Executive Committee to an analyst nominated by the owner on his behalf. The cost of the latter analysis shall be borne by the owner.

(3) - The result of all analyses of samples taken must be made available to the Stewards of the meeting who ordered the sample to be taken. The result of the analysis of sample taken from each greyhound shall be sent to the owner of said greyhound. A copy of the analyst's reports shall be forwarded through the Secretary of the Irish Coursing Club to the Executive Committee.

(4) - Should the owner, trainer or any person in charge of a greyhound or any other person obstruct or impede the taking of a sample under these Rules, or should the owner, trainer or any person in charge of a greyhound fail to present said greyhound for the taking of a sample under these Rules, then the owner, trainer and/or other person shall be liable to the penalties as contained under Section B of this Rule.

(5) - A duly authorised officer of the Club may exercise the authority conferred on the Stewards of the meeting by this Rule. B - Where a sample has been taken from a greyhound and analysed in accordance with this Rule and the analysis has proved positive for a drug or drugs, stimulant or stimulants which shall include the finding of a metabolite or an isomer or an isomer of a metabolite of a drug or drugs, stimulant or stimulants which the Executive Committee consider improper, then the following shall apply

(i) - the greyhound shall be disqualified for the stake in question, the prize money shall be forfeited, the trophy or trophies shall be forfeited, the greyhound may be disqualified from racing, coursing and breeding for a period commencing on a date to be fixed by the Executive Committee.

(ii) - the registered owner/owners of a greyhound deemed to be in breach of this Rule may be warned off from all coursing meetings, greyhound tracks including greyhound sales, registering greyhounds and an Exclusion Order may be made against him under the terms of the Greyhound Industry Act 1958, and may be fined a sum of money which the Executive Committee consider appropriate.

(ii) - the trainer of a greyhound deemed to be in breach of this Rule may be warned off from all coursing meetings, greyhound tracks including greyhound sales, registering greyhounds and an Exclusion Order may be made against him under the terms of the Greyhound Industry Act 1958, and may be fined a sum of money which the Executive Committee consider appropriate.

(iv) - any other person deemed to be in breach of this Rule may be warned off from all coursing meetings, greyhound tracks including greyhound sales, registering greyhounds and an Exclusion Order may be made against him under the terms of the Greyhound Industry Act 1958, and may be fined a sum of money which the Executive Committee consider appropriate.

(v) - prize money and trophy/trophies which have been forfeited shall be distributed at the discretion of the Executive Committee.

(vi) - the Executive Committee may promote a greyhound in a stake which had been beaten in the said stake by a greyhound subsequently disqualified for the said stake under this Rule." Reference was also made during the course of the hearing of this application for judicial review, to Appendix J of these Rules of the Club. Appendix J of the Rules of the Club provides as follows:-

"NATURAL JUSTICE

There are two rules which are referred to by lawyers as rules of natural justice. These rules apply to all administrative bodies when deciding disputes.

A - One of these rules is that the person or body deciding any dispute must be unbiased, that is, that no one ought to be judge in his own cause. Bias may arise from pecuniary interest or from personal attitudes or from personal relationships. Pecuniary interest will disqualify from adjudicating even though it be proved that the decision was not affected by the interest. Examples of personal attitudes which disqualify are animosity or friendship towards a party and partnership shown before or during a hearing. This rule is so obviously acceptable that it is seldom stated in any Act or statutory instrument.

B - The other rule of natural justice, which is known as the audi alteram partem rule, is that each party to an administrative dispute must know the case made against him and be given an opportunity to answer it. The rule requires that each party be informed of all the evidence and be given an opportunity to rebut it and that no evidence may be taken behind the back of a party. The hearing may consist solely of written submissions, in such a case, the rule requires the Tribunal to disclose all relevant communications made to it by each party to the other and to give reasonable opportunity for reply."

By a letter dated the 21st June, 2006, Solicitors for the applicants informed the Solicitors for the respondent that "they", (I think the proper inference from the terms of the letter is that the writer was indicating the applicants together with Solicitors and Counsel), would attend the enquiry on the 24th July, 2006. By this letter, they sought disclosure of the following:-

(a) All documentation by way of statements, or otherwise howsoever arising, to be put in evidence at the hearing.

(b) The names and addresses...

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