Donovan v Best

CourtSupreme Court (Irish Free State)
Judgment Date23 June 1926
Date23 June 1926
Docket Number(1926. No. 15184.)
Donohoe v. Best.
(1926. No. 15184.)

Supreme Court.

Practice - Transfer of action - Action commenced in High Court - Transfer to Circuit Court - Action for false imprisonment and malicious prosecution - Sufficiency of evidence - Whether prima facie case made out - Measure of damages - Whether verdict for over £300 would be set aside - Courts of Justice Act, 1924 (No. 10 of 1924), sect. 25.

The premises of the defendant, a manufacturer of casings for sausages, were broken into, and 300 "hanks" of these casings were stolen. Some days later, the plaintiff, who was also a manufacturer of these casings, sold 140"hanks" of casings to C. Defendant visited C.'s premises and purported to identify some of the casings bought from the plaintiff as some of the casings stolen from his premises. Plaintiff was arrested on defendant's charge, kept for a night in the Bridewell, and brought before the District Justice next day, and on the charge-sheet, signed by defendant, was charged with feloniously breaking and entering defendant's premises and with illegal possession of casings the property of defendant. After several remands on bail, plaintiff was tried on a charge of receiving these casings, knowing them to have been stolen, but was acquitted. He brought an action in the High Court against the defendant for false imprisonment and malicious prosecution. Defendant moved to transfer the action to the Circuit Court. The plaintiff in his affidavit made for the purpose of opposing the motion stated that the acts of the defendant were instigated solely with a view to putting him (the plaintiff) out of business or damaging him, a rival trader.

Held by O'Byrne J. that a finding of malice on the evidence in the plaintiff's affidavit must be set aside for want of evidence, and accordingly the action must be transferred to the Circuit Court.

Held by the Supreme Court, reversing O'Byrne J., that the plaintiff had made a prima facie case fit to be submitted to a jury, and that as it would be difficult for the Supreme Court, on the affidavits, to hold that if a jury found a verdict for the plaintiff for over £300 that verdict would necessarily be set aside as an unreasonable measure of damages, the action ought not to be transferred.

Motion to transfer.

The plaintiff, John Donohoe, issued a writ on 23rd November, 1925, claiming damages for false imprisonment and malicious prosecution against the defendant, James Best. In his statement of claim, the plaintiff stated that on 27th May, 1925, the defendant assaulted him, and gave him into the custody of a policeman upon false charges then made by the defendant, namely—(a) of feloniously breaking and entering the Irish Casing Company Store at Arbour Hill, by forcing a boarded window, and stealing therefrom 300 bundles of sheep casings, value £150; and (b) of having portion of the sheep casings illegally in his possession on 26th May, 1925, and selling them to Mr. Cosgrove, pork butcher, Ranelagh, for £70, and caused him (the plaintiff) to be imprisoned in the Bridewell in the County of the City of Dublin until the following day. On the following day the plaintiff was brought in custody before a District Justice on the said charges, and the defendant falsely and maliciously, and without reasonable or probable cause, preferred the said charges against the plaintiff before a District Justice, presiding at Inns Quay Police Court, in the County of the City of Dublin, before whom the plaintiff was brought in custody, and the defendant procured the said District Justice to remand the plaintiff (bail being granted); and, after several other remands, the defendant, by false and malicious representations, procured the said District Justice to return the plaintiff for trial on the said charges to the Circuit Court of the City of Dublin, where, on 14th July, 1925, the plaintiff was put on trial for the said or kindred offences and crimes, and acquitted thereof.

The particulars of special damages claimed by the plaintiff were:—Legal costs and expenses incurred in connection with the foregoing criminal proceedings, £21. The plaintiff claimed £500 damages.

The defendant moved to transfer the action to the Circuit Court, and in his affidavit in support of the application stated that he carried on business at 102 Cork Street, in the City of Dublin, and did a large business in the manufacture and preparation of sheep casings, hides, &c. On the 18th May, 1925, about 300 hanks of sheep casings, being...

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