Goodman v Minister for Finance

JurisdictionIreland
CourtHigh Court
JudgeMs. Justice Laffoy
Judgment Date08 Oct 1999
Neutral Citation[1999] IEHC 197
Docket Number[1997 No. 13906 P],No. 13906 P 1997

[1999] IEHC 197

THE HIGH COURT

No. 13906 P 1997
GOODMAN & GOODMAN INTERNATIONAL v. MIN FOR FINANCE

BETWEEN

LAURENCE GOODMAN AND GOODMAN INTERNATIONAL
PLAINTIFFS

AND

THE MINISTER FOR FINANCE
DEFENDANT

Citations:

TRIBUNALS OF INQUIRY (EVIDENCE) ACT 1921 S2(b)

TRIBUNALS OF INQUIRY (EVIDENCE) (AMDT) ACT 1979 S6

TRIBUNALS OF INQUIRY (EVIDENCE) (AMDT) ACT 1979 S4

DEBTORS (IRL) ACT 1840 S53

DEBTORS (IRL) ACT 1840 S26

DEBTORS (IRL) ACT 1840 S27

COURTS ACT 1981 S20

RSC O.42 r3

RSC O.42 r15

BEST V WELLCOME FOUNDATION LTD 1995 1 ILRM 554

MCGARRY, AG V SLIGO CO COUNCIL (NO 2) 1989 ILRM 785

COOKE V WALSH 1989 ILRM 322

RSC O.99 r37(34)

TRIBUNALS OF INQUIRY (EVIDENCE) (AMDT) ACT 1979 S6(2)

GOODMAN INTERNATIONAL V HAMILTON 1992 2 IR 542

K SECURITY LTD & KAVANAGH V IRELAND & AG UNREP GANNON 15.7.1977 1977/5/886

TRIBUNALS OF INQUIRY (EVIDENCE) (AMDT) ACT 1979 S6(1)

TRIBUNALS OF INQUIRY (EVIDENCE) (AMDT) ACT 1979 S3

PLUNKETT, STATE V REGISTRAR OF FRIENDLY SOCIETIES 1998 4 IR 1

MCDONALD V BORD NA GCON 1965 IR 217

COURTS (SUPPLEMENTAL PROVISIONS) ACT 1961

RSC O.99 r38(1)

RSC O.99 r38(3)

RSC O.99 r38(6)

RSC O.42

LONDON CHATHAM & DOVER RAILWAY CO V SOUTH EASTERN RAILWAY CO 1893 AC 429

EAST CORK FOODS LTD V O'DWYER STEEL CO LTD 1978 IR 103

MOULE V GARRETT 1872 LR 7 EX 101

O'ROURKE V REVENUE COMMISSIONERS 1996 2 IR 1

PHIPPS V BOARDMAN 1967 2 AC 46

FOLENS V MIN FOR EDUCATION 1984 ILRM 265

PMPA (CARRICK) LTD V PMPS LTD UNREP MURPHY 27.6.1994

WOOLWICH BUILDING SOCIETY V INLAND REVENUE COMMISSIONERS 1993 AC 70

Synopsis

Practice and Procedure

Costs; plaintiffs claiming declaration of entitlement to interest on costs payable under certain orders made in favour of each at the conclusion of the Tribunal of Inquiry into the Beef Industry; plaintiffs claiming order for payment of such interest as and when same was determined; whether entitlement of plaintiffs to recover interest in respect of costs as finally ascertained by taxation; plaintiffs submitting that effect of orders of Tribunal was to import into and impose upon the taxation of the plaintiffs" costs the statutory provisions and the Rules of the Superior Courts applicable to the taxation of costs in an action in the High Court and that therefore the award of costs in favour of the plaintiffs should carry interest from the date of the order irrespective of when the costs were taxed; plaintiffs submitting that a demand having been made by the plaintiffs for payment of interest, by virtue of section 53, Debtors (Ireland) Act, 1840, they are entitled to interest from the date of the demand; plaintiffs submitting that the defendants would be unjustly enriched if the plaintiffs were not awarded interest on the costs; whether the powers conferred on the Tribunal by section 4, Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act, 1979 amplified the Tribunal's power in relation to the award of costs such that it was empowered not only to order that the costs of the plaintiffs be paid out of monies provided by the Oireachtas but also to extend the provisions of sections 26 and 27, Debtors (Ireland) Act, 1840 which allowed for interest on an award of costs and also the mechanisms provided in the Rules which allowed for execution for costs and interest without further order to the plaintiffs; whether on the proper construction of the Act of 1979 the only power which the Tribunal had to award costs to a party appearing before it is the power contained in section 6 of the Act of 1979; whether the Tribunal had the power to order that the award of costs under section 6 of the Act of 1979 should carry interest for any period; whether for a creditor to have an entitlement to claim interest under section 53 the debtor's liability to pay a specific sum had to have arisen when the claim was triggered by a demand and notice; whether the liability of the defendant under the relevant order to pay the costs arose only when an interim certificate of taxation or a final certificate of taxation issued; whether plaintiffs only entitled to invoke the section and to claim interest when a final certificate issued and then only if the defendant failed to pay on foot of a final certificate; whether the plaintiffs had an equitable entitlement to section 53 interest; whether until the taxation process was completed and the liability of the defendant quantified by the issue of a certificate of taxation there had been wrongdoing or unconscionable conduct involved in the failure of the defendant to pay the costs and whether there was any basis on which the defendant could be regarded as holding the monies in question in fiduciary circumstances or circumstances in which he was unjustly enriched at the expense of the plaintiffs.

Held: Plaintiffs" claim dismissed.

Goodman v. Minister for Finance - High Court: Laffoy J. - 08/10/1999 - [1999] 3 IR 356

1

Ms. Justice Laffoy delivered on the 8th day of October, 1999.

THE RELIEF CLAIMED
2

Each of the Plaintiffs claims a declaration of entitlement to interest as and from 29th July, 1994, on the costs payable under Orders dated 29th July, 1994, made in favour of each at the conclusion of the Tribunal of Inquiry which has become known colloquially as the Beef Tribunal. Further, each of the Plaintiffs claims an order for payment of such interest as and when the same is determined.

BACKGROUND
3

The Tribunal was established pursuant to resolutions of Dail Eireann passed on 24th May 1991, and of Seanad Eireann passed on 29th May, 1991 by order of the Minister for Agriculture and Food made on 31 st May, 1991. It was provided in the Order that the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Acts, 1921 and 1979 ("the Act of 1921" and "the Act of 1979") should apply to the Tribunal. On 21st June, 1991, each of the Plaintiffs was granted authorisation to be represented before the Tribunal by Counsel instructed by solicitor, such authorisation being granted under the provisions of Section 2(b) of the Act of 1921.

4

Each of the Orders made on 29th July, 1994 contained recitals in the following terms:-

"WHEREAS it is provided by section 6 of the [Act of 1979] that if a Tribunal is of opinion that having regard to its findings and all other relevant matters there are sufficient reasons rendering it equitable to do so it may by Order direct that the whole or part of the costs of any person appearing before the Tribunal by counsel or solicitor as taxed by a Taxing Master of the High Court be paid by any other person named in the Order; and

WHEREAS by section 4 of the [Act of 1979] it is provided that a Tribunal may make such Order as it considers necessary for the purpose of its functions; and

WHEREAS the Tribunal...is satisfied that having regard to its findings and all other relevant matters there are sufficient reasons rendering it equitable that the Minister for Finance should pay the costs of the applicants as hereinafter appearing."

5

The curial part of the Order in favour of the first named Plaintiff, in so far as it is relevant for present purposes, was in the following terms:-

"IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that a Taxing Master of the High Court do tax in the manner hereinafter appearing the applicant's costs of appearing before the said Tribunal by two counsel instructed by solicitors."

6

In relation to the taxation of the applicant's costs, the Tribunal DOTH ORDER as follows:-

7

(a) That the statutory provisions and the Rules of the Superior Courts relating to the taxation of costs in an action in the High Court (including the provisions relating to review and appeal) shall, in so far as is practicable, apply.

8

(b) That the costs of employing a solicitor and two counsel be taxed on a party and party basis.

9

...

10

(f) That the Minister for Finance do pay the applicant's costs when taxed and ascertained."

11

The curial part of the Order in favour of the second named Plaintiff was in similar terms, save that it provided for taxation of the costs of appearing before the Tribunal by three counsel instructed by a solicitor.

12

Section 6 of the Act of 1979, which was first recited in each of the Orders, provides as follows:-

13

2 "(1) Where a tribunal...is of opinion that, having regard to the findings of the tribunal and all other relevant matters, there are sufficient reasons rendering it equitable to do so, the tribunal...may by order direct that the whole or part of the costs of any person appearing before the tribunal by counsel or solicitor, as taxed by a Taxing Master of the High Court, shall be paid to the person by any other person named in the order.

14

(2) Any sum payable pursuant to an order under this section shall be recoverable as a simple contract debt in any court of competent jurisdiction.

15

(3) Any sum payable by the Minister for Finance pursuant to an order under this section shall be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas."

16

Section 4 of the Act of 1979, which was also recited in each of the Orders, provides as follows:-

"A tribunal may make such orders as it considers necessary for the purposes of its functions, and it shall have, in relation to their making, all such powers, rights and privileges as are vested in the High Court or a judge of that Court in respect of the making of orders."

17

The Plaintiffs delivered bills of costs in September 1995, which were duly taxed by the Taxing Master. The Defendant carried in objections against allowances made by the Taxing Master and sought a review of same. The Defendant was dissatisfied with the decision of the Taxing Master on the review and applied to this Court for an Order to review the taxation. This matter was heard immediately following the hearing of the review but before judgment was delivered on the review.

18

By letter dated 11th January, 1996 from the Plaintiff's solicitors to the Chief State Solicitor, the Plaintiffs gave notice of their claim to interest in the following terms:-

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