Deighan v Ireland

JurisdictionIreland
CourtHigh Court
JudgeMr Justice Feargus M. Flood
Judgment Date01 January 1995
Neutral Citation1994 WJSC-HC 2504
Docket NumberNo. 6449 P/1986,[1986 No. 6449P]
Date01 January 1995
DEIGHAN v. IRELAND

BETWEEN

MICHAEL DEIGHAN
PLAINTIFF

AND

IRELAND, THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, THE MINISTER FOR JUSTICE ANDTHE MINISTER FOR FINANCE
DEFENDANTS

1994 WJSC-HC 2504

No. 6449 P/1986

THE HIGH COURT

Synopsis:

ACTION

Cause

Absence - Judge - Error - Compensation - Liability - Immunity from suit - (1986/6449 P - Flood J. - 11/10/94) - [1995] 2 I.R. 56

|Deighan v. Ireland|

JUDGE

Error

Compensation - Liability - Absence - Claimant - Attachment - Alleged contempt in face of court - Arrest and imprisonment of claimant - Decision of judge erroneous - Immunity from suit - Release of claimant - Claimant's action for damages - Action dismissed - (1986/6449 P - Flood J. - 11/10/94) - [1995] 2 I.R. 56

|Deighan v. Ireland|

PRACTICE

Action

Dismissal - Ground - Cause - Absence - Judge - Error - Compensation - Liability - Immunity from suit - (1986/6449 P - Flood J. - 11/10/94) - [1995] 2 I.R. 56 - [1995] 1 ILRM 88

|Deighan v. Ireland|

Citations:

KELLYS CARPETDROME, IN RE 1984 ILRM 424

CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ACT 1993 S9

MAHARAJ V AG OF TRINIDAD & TOBAGO (NO 2) 1979 AC 385

BYRNE V IRELAND 1972 IR 241

MCKENZIE V MCKENZIE 1970 3 WLR 472

MCINTYRE V LEWIS 1991 1 IR 121

SIRROS V MOORE 1974 3 AER 776

GARNETT V FERRAND (1827) 6 B & C 611

LONDON CORPORATION V COX 1867 LR 2 HL 239

COMPANIES ACT 1963 S297

SCOTT V STANFIELD 1868 LR 3 EXCH 220

ANDERSON V GORRIE 1895 1 QB 668

1

Judgment of Mr Justice Feargus M. Flooddeliveredthis 11th day of October 1994

The Claim
2

The Plenary Summons in this matter claims damages for

3

(1) Assault and Battery

4

(2) Unlawful Imprisonment

5

(3) Malicious Prosecution

6

These, several causes of action, arise from events which took place in the High Court in the course of the afternoon of June 24th, 1983 and in the succeeding days, when the Plaintiff and a Mr Matthew Kelly were attached, by Mr Justice Costello, for contempt in the face of the Court. The said contempt occurred in the course of proceedings before Mr Justice Costello intituled "1981 No 7508P The High CourtIn the matter of Kelly's Carpet Drome Ltd In the matter of the Companies Act 1963 And in the matter of an application under Section 297 of the Companies Act 1963".

7

The Court on its own Motion by Order dated June 27th, 1983 attached the said Matthew Kelly and the Plaintiff to answer charges of criminal contempt in the face of the Court by interference with the course of justice in the said proceedings on the following count:

8

2 "(2) That on the afternoon of (Friday 24th of June, 1983) Matthew Kelly and Michael Deighan induced the said Brendan McGoldrick, a witness in these proceedings under subpoena, to leave the Court and its precincts so as to prevent his being then called on to giveevidence".

9

The Court, after hearing evidence, including evidence on behalf of the Defendants (including the Plaintiff in these proceedings) and of Counsel on his behalf, ordered that the Plaintiff in these proceedings "do stand convicted of the charge in the second count and ordered to be imprisoned for six months without hard labour" and further refused an application by the Plaintiff in these proceedings for bail pending appeal. The said trial before Mr Justice Costello was a summary trial without ajury.

10

The Plaintiff and his co-Defendant in the contempt proceedings appealed to the Supreme Court

11

(1) against the said refusal of bail, which appeal was dismissed on July 27th, 1983

12

(2) against the said Order of Attachment and Commital to Prison judgment in which was given on October 19th, 1983.

13

The judgment of the High Court, and the subsequent judgment of the Supreme Court are reported, sub. nom. "In the matter of the trial of Matthew Kelly and Michael J. Deighan for contempt of Court" in 1984 ILRM424 et seq.

14

The judgment of the Supreme Court, delivered by the Chief Justice Mr Justice O'Higgins is in the following terms:

"This Court is satisfied that in cases of contempt in the face of the Court, a High Court Judge has jurisdiction to deal with the matter summarily and to impose punishment where it is necessary to do so to protect the administration of justice.

Assuming for the purposes of this appeal that the allegations made in the present case would, if proved, amount to contempt in the face of the Court, this Court is of the opinion that, having regard to the sequence in which witnesses gave their evidence and adverting in particular to the fact that Mr McGoldrick had completed his evidence in the Companies Act matter, the necessity for the Judge to hear and determine the issue did not exist.

In these circumstances these appeals will be allowed. The Court will make an Order for the release of the Appellants".

15

The Plaintiff in these proceedings before this Court has appeared in person. The pleadings before this Court areapparently drafted by himself.

16

In the Statement of Claim in addition to the matters complained of in the Plenary Summons to which I have referred the Plaintiff complains that his imprisonment was a contravention of his constitutional rights, that there has been a breach of the Articles of the Convention on Human Rights, a denial of a fair trial, and a denial of an Order of Habeas Corpus. In my view these latter aspects of the matter are in reality extensions of the claims made in the Plenary Summons which are the essence of the Plaintiff's complaint before this Court.

17

The Defendants filed the defence in this matter on July 9th, 1990 which is in essence a traverse of the allegations of fact contained in the Statement of Claim and a plea in paragraph 4 in terms following:

18

2 "4. The Plaintiff was at all material times in lawful custody from the date of the detention until the date of his release and no right of action lies in respect of the said detention either for the reasons alleged or at all".

19

By Notice of Motion dated June 22nd, 1994 the Defendants sought an Order to amend their defence in terms following:

20

2 "1A. The Defendants deny that the pleadings of the Plaintiff herein disclose any cause of action and will apply for the dismissal of the Plaintiff's claim at the outset of the hearing of the said action".

21

That Motion was returnable for June 28th, 1994. In fact on that date the action was listed in the list for jury trials. In the events that happened there was no jury available and the Plaintiff consented to the action being tried by a Judge sitting alone. The Motion and action came on for hearing before me. The Motion was grounded on the Affidavit of Mr Corcoran, a member of the Chief State Solicitors Office staff, and the Plaintiff also filed a replying Affidavit. I indicated and decided that the Motion should proceed and I indicated and decided that I would be prepared to grant the amendment and to try a preliminary issue as to whether or not the Plaintiff had a cause of action in theseproceedings.

22

As the Plaintiff was not legally represented before this Court I think that it is appropriate in the circumstances to tabulate his submissions and contentions:-

23

(1) The essence of the Plaintiff's case as articulated by him is to be found in the second and third paragraphs of the judgment of the Chief Justice in the appeal by the Plaintiff to the Supreme Court already referred to. I quote hereunder the passage in question and underline the phrases upon which he lays emphasis.

"Assuming for the purpose of this appeal that the allegations made in the present case would, if proved, amount to contempt in the face of the Court, this Court is of opinion that having regard to the sequence in which the witnesses gave their evidence and adverting in particularto the fact that Mr McGoldrick had completed his evidence in the companies Act matter, the necessity for the Judge to hear and determine the contempt issue did not exist.

In these circumstances these appeal will be allowed. The Court will make an Order for the release of the Appellants."

24

He contends that the underlined phrases in reality amount to saying that he never was in fact in contempt of Court and he argues that it follows that the trial Judge was in error in

25

(a) charging and trying him for contempt,

26

(b) by finding him in contempt, and

27

(c) in incarcerting him in jail.

28

(2) He claims that by reason of his wrongful incarceration, he has been assulted, and wrongfully imprisoned. He further claims that these wrongful acts sound in damages. He couples with this claim the aggravating factor that he was refused bail in...

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