Goodman International v Hamilton

JurisdictionIreland
CourtSupreme Court
Date01 January 1992
Docket Number[1991 No. 233JR]
Goodman International v. Mr. Justice Hamilton
Goodman International and Laurence Goodman, Applicants
and
The Honourable Mr. Justice Liam Hamilton, sole member of the Tribunal of Inquiry into the Beef Processing Industry, Ireland and The Attorney General
Respondents
[1991 No. 233JR]

High Court

Supreme Court

Constitution - Courts - Tribunal of Inquiry - Jurisdiction - Beef industry - Fraud - Malpractice - Allegations made in Dáil Éireann éireann - Resolution for public inquiry - Remit - Parties - Current civil proceedings - Past criminal prosecutions - Private disputes - Public interest - Good name - Fair procedures - Judicial domain - "Exercise of limited functions and powers of a judicial nature" - Whether Tribunal's remit trenching upon judicial function - Resolution of Dáil Éireann éireann - Presumption of constitutionality - Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act, 1921 (11 Geo. 5, c. 7) - Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) (Amendment) Act, 1979 (No. 3) - Constitution of Ireland, 1937, Articles 34, 37, 38 and 40, s. 3.

Evidence - Admissibility - Tribunal - Public inquiry - Beef industry - Allegations of fraud, malpractice or criminal conduct - Whether court rules of admissibility of evidence to apply - Whether prior statements of allegations to be available - Hearing - Whether public or private - Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act, 1921 (11 Geo. 5, c. 7) - Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) (Amendment) Act, 1979 (No. 3).

Article 37 of the Constitution of Ireland, 1937, provides:—

"Nothing in this Constitution shall operate to invalidate the exercise of limited functions and powers of a judicial nature, in matters other than criminal matters, by any person or body of persons duly authorised by law to exercise such functions and powers, notwithstanding that such person or such body of persons is not a judge or a court appointed or established as such under this Constitution."

A television programme broadcast on the 13th May, 1991, alleged fraud and malpractice in the beef processing industry by the applicants, said to control a 30% share in the industry. Similar allegations had previously been made in Dáil Éireann éireann and on the 24th May, 1991, it adopted a resolution that it was expedient that a Tribunal of Inquiry be established to inquire into "definite matters of urgent public importance", viz.:—

"(i) Allegations concerning illegal activities, fraud and malpractice in and in connection with the beef processing industry made or referred to

  • (a) in Dáil Éireann éireann and

  • (b) on a television programme transmitted on May 13th, 1991.

    • (ii) Any matters connected with or relevant to the matters aforesaid which the Tribunal considers it necessary to investigate in connection with its inquiries into the matters mentioned at (i) above."

The Minister for Agriculture and Food by order of the 31st May, 1991, appointed the respondent the sole member of the Tribunal of Inquiry. At the first sittings of the Tribunal a "Statement of Allegations" identifying the extensive and detailed allegations made was prepared, many of which were critical of the applicants. Correspondence on the parameters and possible procedures of the Inquiry followed and by the 27th September the Tribunal had assembled 11 books of materials which the applicants' solicitors were told would be adduced in evidence. The applicants made written and oral submissions on all aspects of the Tribunal and its jurisdiction. These were rejected on the 9th October, and the respondent then indicated that the substantive Inquiry would commence on Monday, the 14th October.

On Friday, the 11th October, 1991, the applicants obtained in the High Court leave to seek relief byway of judicial review on the grounds that Dáil and Seanad Éireann éireann could not validly direct, nor the Minister validly order nor the Tribunal hold an inquiry into allegations the subject matter of current civil proceedings; allegations about private affairs of the parties; allegations relating to crimes already prosecuted in the criminal courts; allegations of criminal conduct; and contended that such matters were reserved exclusively by the Constitution to the courts. They furthermore sought declarations that only evidence admissible in a court of law could be evidence before the Tribunal; that certain evidence be heard in private; that statements of evidence be prepared and furnished to interested parties; and that the allegations pinpointed or identified by the Tribunal had been improperly selected. Upon opposition by counsel for the Tribunal it was

Held by Costello J. and affirmed upon the applicants' appeal by the Supreme Court (Finlay C.J., Hederman, McCarthy, O'Flaherty and Egan JJ.), in refusing the reliefs sought by the applicants, 1, that a resolution of both Houses of the Oireachtas, was entitled to the same presumption of constitutionality as Acts of the Oireachtas and Bills upon a reference under Article 26 of the Constitution to the Supreme Court, and that such presumption of constitutionality derived from the respect shown by one organ of State to another and by the necessary comity between the different organs of State.

McDonald v. Bord na gCon [1965] I.R. 217 followed.

2. That the presumption of constitutional validity applied also to the proceedings, procedures, discretions and adjudications permitted, provided for or intended by that resolution of both Houses of the Oireachtas.

East Donegal Co-Operative Livestock Mart Ltd. v. Attorney General [1970] I.R. 317applied.

3. That the terms of reference provided by the resolution of both Houses of the Oireachtas did not trench upon the judicial domain reserved by Articles 34 to 38 of the Constitution to the courts, in that the Tribunal was not required to "administer justice"or carry out "judicial functions" (as distinct from acting judicially) and was seised of nolis, its function being merely inquisitorial and the making of a report of its findings to the Oireachtas.

Criteria set out by Kenny J. in McDonald v. Bord na gCon[1965] I.R. 217, 230 - 231 applied.

4. That the terms of reference for the Tribunal of Inquiry likewise did not interfere with the constitutional prescription for trial upon a criminal charge because, although the Tribunal might inquire whether criminal acts had been committed by named persons and confirm or negate the allegations made in its report to the Oireachtas, it had neither power nor jurisdiction to punish upon a verdict of guilty, nor determine the guilt or innocence of persons charged with offences against the State itself.

Lynham v. Butler [1933] I.R. 74 and Deaton v. Attorney General[1963] I.R. 170applied.

5. That the terms of reference did not interfere with the administration of justice in civil matters since any findings of facts made by the Tribunal could not effect a conclusion of fact or facts in any other cause or matter before a court.

Victoria v. Australian Building Construction Employees' and Building Labourers' Federation (1982) 152 C.L.R. 25 and McGuinness v. Attorney General of Victoria(1940) 63 C.L.R. 73 approved.

6. That there was no rule of law which required the Tribunal of Inquiry to apply the rules of evidence applicable in a court of law: it was bound by the requirements of fair procedures and its proposal as to how it would receive such evidence was entirely proper.

7. That while it was of the essence of tribunals of inquiry that their hearings be in public, the Tribunal was entitled within its discretion to hold sittings in private in accordance with the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act, 1921.

In re Haughey [1971] I.R. 217 considered.

8. That the applicants had failed to show to date any procedural or evidentiary shortcomings requiring intervention by the High Court.

Cases mentioned in this report:—

The Attorney General v. Times Newspapers [1974] A.C. 273; [1973] 3 W.L.R. 298; [1973] 3 All E.R. 54.

Banco Ambrosiano v. Ansbacher & Co. [1987] I.L.R.M. 669.

Buckley & Others v. The Attorney General [1950] I.R. 67.

Case of the Commission of Enquiry (1608) 12 Co. Rep. 31; 77 E.R. 1312.

Central Dublin Development Association v. The Attorney General(1975) 109 I.L.T.R. 69.

Clough v. Leahy (1904) 2 C.L.R. 139.

Cock v. The Attorney General (1909) 28 N.Z.L.R. 405.

Conway v. Gerald [1965] I.R. 401.

Costello v. Director of Public Prosecutions [1984] I.R. 436; [1984] I.L.R.M. 413.

Cowan v. The Attorney General and Others [1961] I.R. 411.

In re Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Bill, 1975 [1977] I.R. 129; (1976) 110 I.L.T.R. 69.

Curtis v. The Attorney General [1985] I.R. 458; [1986] I.L.R.M. 428.

Deaton v. The Attorney General [1963] I.R. 170; (1962) 98 I.L.T.R. 99.

Dowling v. United States (1990) 463 U.S. 342; 110 S.C. 668.

Downes v. Director of Public Prosecutions [1987] I.R. 139; [1987] I.L.R.M. 665.

East Donegal Co-Operative Livestock Mart Ltd. v. Attorney General[1970] I.R. 317; (1970) 104 I.L.T.R. 81.

In re Emergency Powers Bill, 1976 [1977] I.R. 159; (1976) 111 I.L.T.R. 29.

Re Gartshore; Rex v. Clement (1919) 44 D.L.R. 623.

In re Haughey [1971] I.R. 217.

Keady v. Commissioner of An Garda Síochána [1992] 2 I.R. 197; [1992] I.L.R.M. 312.

Kennedy v. Hearne [1988] I.R. 481; [1988] I.L.R.M. 531.

Kilbourn v. Thomson (1880) 103 U.S. 169.

King v. Attorney General [1981] I.R. 233.

Ex parte Leahy; ex parte Rayment (1904) 4 S.R. (N.S.W.) 401.

Lynham v. Butler [1933] I.R. 74; (1931) 67 I.L.T.R. 75; [1932] L.J. Ir. 172.

Maher v. The Attorney General [1973] I.R. 140; (1973) 108 I.L.T.R. 41.

McDonald v. Bord na gCon [1965] I.R. 217; (1965) 100 I.L.T.R. 89.

McGrath v. Commissioner of An Garda Síochána [1989] I.R. 241 (H.C.); [1991] 1 I.R. 69 (S.C.); [1990] I.L.R.M. 5 (H.C.) and 816 (S.C.).

McGuinness v. Attorney General of Victoria (1940) 63 C.L.R. 73.

McLoughlin v. Tuite [1986] I.R. 235; [1986] I.L.R.M. 665.

Melling v. O'Mathghamhna [1962] I.R. 1; (1961) 97 I.L.T.R. 60.

The People v. Madden [1977] I.R. 336.

R. v....

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