DPP -v- Independent Newspapers, [2009] IESC 20 (2009)

Docket Number:221/05
Party Name:DPP, Independent Newspapers
Judge:Hardiman J.

THE SUPREME COURT221/05 Murray C.J. Hardiman J. Geoghegan J.Fennelly J.Finnegan J.IN THE MATTER OF A CONTEMPT OF COURTand IN THE MATTER OF AN APPLICATION PURSUANT TO ORDER 44 Between:THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONSApplicant/AppellantandINDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS (IRELAND) LIMITED, GERARD O'REGAN and ANNE MURRAY-WALSH RespondentsJUDGMENT of Mr. Justice Hardiman delivered the 5th day of March, 2009. In my previous judgment in this matter, delivered on the 5th March, 2008, I expressed the view that the court should decline to entertain the Director's purported appeal, on the basis that no such appeal lay by virtue of s.11 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1993. This conclusion, in turn, rested on the proposition that because the Director's application against the respondents was a proceeding of a criminal nature. The High Court in hearing it was acting as the Central Criminal Court, by virtue of s.11 of the Courts (Supplemental Provisions) Act, 1961, and in particular subsection (1) thereof.That conclusion, of course, would be sufficient to dispose of the entire appeal. However, my judgment was a minority one, all my colleagues being of the view that the High Court was not acting as the Central Criminal Court in hearing this application.Subsequent to the decision on that issue, the matter was adjourned for further argument on the merits. I consider that, in the circumstances of the case, the judgment of the Court, by majority, of the 5th March, 2008, is binding on me i.e. that I must assume that an appeal does lie.On that assumption, I agree with the order proposed by Mr. Justice Geoghegan and the judgment in which that proposal is made, subject to a few remarks made below.I specifically agree with Mr. Justice Geoghegan's conclusions on the question of an entitlement to jury trial on a contempt application, as arising from the constitutional provisions in relation to the trial of offences. It occurs to me that the verdict of the jury on such a trial would have to be in the nature of a "special verdict" i.e. the jury would answer specific questions put to them by the judge having heard the parties, much like the procedure followed in a civil action tried with a jury. The question of whether, having regard to the facts found by the jury, a contempt of court should be found, would then in every instance be a matter for the judge, for the reasons given by Mr. Justice Geoghegan.Fortunately, contempt of court is not a matter which arises very frequently in the courts'...

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