Iarnnód Éireann v Ireland

JurisdictionIreland
CourtSupreme Court
Judgment Date16 July 1996
Docket Number[1993 No. 4743 P; S.C. No. 186 of 1995]
Date16 July 1996

High Court

Supreme Court

[1993 No. 4743 P; S.C. No. 186 of 1995]
Iarnród Éireann v. Ireland
Iarnród Éireann éireann and Bernard Patrick Dowling
Plaintiffs
and
Ireland, The Attorney General, Michael Diskin, Patrick Diskin and Giovanni Gaspari
Defendants

Cases mentioned in this report:—

Ambiorix Ltd. v. Minister for the Environment (No. 1) [1992] 1 I.R. 277; [1992] I.L.R.M. 209.

Attorney General for England and Wales v. Brandon Book Publishers Ltd. [1986] I.R. 597; [1987] I.L.R.M. 135.

The Attorney General v. Southern Industrial Trust (1957) 94 I.L.T.R. 161.

Betts v. Gibbins (1834) 2 Ad. & E. 57; 111 E.R. 22.

Blake v. The Attorney General [1982] I.R. 117; [1981] I.L.R.M. 34.

Boland v. An Taoiseach [1974] I.R. 338; (1974) 109 I.L.T.R. 13.

The "British Aviator" [1965] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 271.

Brown v. Thompson [1968] 1 W.L.R. 1003; [1968] 2 All E.R. 708; 112 Sol. Jo. 464.

Burrowes v. Rhodes [1899] 1 Q.B. 816; [1895-9] All E.R. Rep. 117; 68 L.J.Q.B. 545; 80 L.T. 591; 63 J.P. 532; 48 W.R. 13; 15 T.L.R. 286; 43 Sol. Jo. 351.

Cahill v. Sutton [1980] I.R. 269.

Central Dublin Development Association v. The Attorney General(1969) 109 I.L.T.R. 69.

Chestvale Properties Ltd. v. Glackin [1993] 3 I.R. 35; [1992] I.L.R.M. 221.

Cocke v. Jennor (1614) Hob. 66; 80 E.R. 214.

Cox v. Ireland [1992] 2 I.R. 503.

Crotty v. An Taoiseach [1987] I.R. 713; [1987] I.L.R.M. 400.

Davies v. Swan Motor Co. (Swansea) Ltd. [1949] 2 K.B. 291; [1949] 1 All E.R. 620; (1949) 65 T.L.R. 278.

De Burca v. Attorney General [1976] I.R. 38; (1975) 111 I.L.T.R 37.

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

Educational Company of Ireland Ltd. v. Fitzpatrick (No. 2) [1961] I.R. 345.

Everet v. Williams (1725) noted at 9 L.Q.R. 197.

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

Heaney v. Ireland [1994] 3 I.R. 593; [1994] 2 I.L.R.M. 420.

Henderson v. Folkestone Waterworks Company (1885) 1 T.L.R. 329.

Heydon's Case (1612) 11 Co. Rep. 5; 77 E.R. 1150.

Horwell v. L.G.O. Co. (1877) 2 Ex. D. 365.

Keenan v. Bergin [1971] I.R. 192.

Kelly v. Jameson (Unreported, Supreme Court, 1st March, 1972).

The Koursk [1924] P. 140; (1924) 93 L.J.P. 72; 131 L.T. 700; 40 T.L.R. 399.

McMahon v. Attorney General [1972] I.R. 69; (1971) 106 I.L.T.R. 89.

Madden v. Quirk [1989] 1 W.L.R. 702; [1989] R.T.R 304; (1989) 133 S.J. 752.

Madigan v. Attorney General [1986] I.L.R.M. 136.

In re The Matrimonial Home Bill, 1993 [1994] 1 I.R. 305; [1994] 1 I.L.R.M. 241.

Merryweather v. Nixan (1799) 8 Term Rep. 186; 101 E.R. 1337.

The Mirafloras and The Abadesa [1967] 1 A.C. 826; [1967] 2 W.L.R. 806; [1967] 1 All E.R. 672; 111 Sol. Jo. 211; [1967] 1 Lloyd's Rep. 191.

Moynihan v. Greensmith [1977] I.R. 55.

Murphy and Murphy v. The Attorney General [1982] I.R. 241.

O'Donovan v. Attorney General [1961] I.R. 114; (1961) 96 I.L.T.R. 121.

O'Sullivan v. Dwyer [1971] I.R. 275.

Overseas Tankship (UK) Ltd. v. Mort Dock Engineering Co. Ltd. (The Wagon Mound) [1961] A.C. 388; [1961] 2 W.L.R. 126; [1961] 1 All E.R. 404; 105 Sol. Jo. 85; [1961] Lloyd's Rep. 1.

The People (D.P.P.) v. O'Shea [1982] I.R. 384; [1983] I.L.R.M. 549.

Pine Valley Developments v. Minister for the Environment [1987] I.R. 23; [1987] I.L.R.M. 747.

Private Motorists' Provident Society v. Attorney General [1983] I.R. 339; [1984] I.L.R.M. 88.

Quinn's Supermarket v. Attorney General [1972] I.R. 1.

Ryan v. The Attorney General [1965] I.R. 294.

Rylands v. Fletcher (1868) L.R. 2 H.L. 330; [1861-73] All E.R. Rep. 1; 37 L.J. Ex 161; 19 L.T. 220; 33 J.P. 70.

S.P.U C. v. Coogan (No. 1) [1989] I.R. 734; [1990] I.L.R.M. 70.

S.P.U.C. v. Grogan (No. 1) [1989] I.R. 753; [1990] I.L.R.M. 350.

Stapley v. Gypsum Mines Ltd [1953] A.C. 663; [1953] 3 W.L.R. 279; [1953] 2 All E.R. 478; 97 Sol. Jo. 486.

Sweeney v. Duggan [1991] 2 I.R. 274.

Thomson v. Saint Catherine's College, Cambridge [1919] A.C. 468; (1918) 88 L.J.Ch. 163; 120 L.T. 481; 35 T.L.R. 228; 63 Sol. Jo. 264.

Tuohy v. Courtney [1994] 3 I.R. 1; [1994] I.L.R.M. 503.

Wellwood v. Alexander King Ltd. [1921] 2 I.R. 274; (1921) 55 I.L.T.R. 145.

Constitution - Statute - Validity - Property rights - Concurrent wrongdoers - Liability apportioned 30% and 70% between concurrent wrongdoers - 70% wrongdoer impecunious - 30% wrongdoer liable to plaintiff for full amount of damages - Whether such liability an unjust attack on property rights of 30% wrongdoer - Civil Liability Act, 1961 (No. 41), ss. 12 and 14 - Constitution of Ireland, 1937, Article 40, s. 3 and Article 43.

Constitution - Locus standi - Plaintiff a body corporate created by statute - Claim that statute an attack on plaintiff's property rights - Whether plaintiff having locus standi to maintain action - Constitution of Ireland 1937, Article 40, s. 3 and Article 43.

Tort - Concurrent wrongdoers - Whether liability between concurrent wrongdoers to be apportioned on basis of blameworthiness or causation - Whether concurrent wrongdoer's liability to plaintiff for full amount of damages an unjust attack on concurrent wrongdoer's property rights - Civil Liability Act, 1961 (No. 41), ss. 12, 14, 21 and 43 - Constitution of Ireland 1937, Article 40, s. 3 and Article 43.

Res judicata - Constitutional validity of statute raised by defendant in original proceedings - Separate proceedings required to determine constitutional validity - Original proceedings concluded - Whether issues in original proceedings depending on constitutional validity of statute res judicata.

Plenary summons.

The facts have been summarised in the headnote and are fully set out in the judgment of Keane J., infra.

By plenary summons dated the 5th July, 1993, the plaintiffs claimedinter alia, the following reliefs:—

  • 1. A declaration that ss. 12 and 14 of the Civil Liability Act, 1961 were invalid, having regard to the provisions of the Constitution of Ireland, 1937, and

  • 2. A declaration that the first plaintiff was not obliged to pay any damages and/or costs to the fifth defendant in respect of a personal injuries action entitled "The High Court, record number 14997P/1989, Giovanni Gaspari v. Irish Rail, Michael J. Diskin and Patrick Diskin", other than in respect of that percentage of the loss and damage suffered by Giovanni Gaspari which was directly attributable to the fault and negligence of the first plaintiff.

The action was heard by the High Court (Keane J.) on the 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th March, 1995. The third and fourth defendants were excused from the proceedings on the first day of the hearing.

Notice of appeal was filed by the plaintiffs on the 2nd June, 1995. Notice to vary the High Court order in respect of the trial judge's findings on locus standi were served on behalf of the first, second and fifth defendants. The appeal was heard by the Supreme Court (Hamilton C.J., O'Flaherty, Blayney, Denham and Barrington JJ.), on the 18th and 19th June, 1996.

Article 40, s. 3, sub-s. 2 of the Constitution of Ireland, 1937, provides, inter alia,that "[t]he State shall .. by its laws protect as best it may from unjust attack and, in the case of injustice done, vindicate the .. property rights of the citizen".

Article 43, sub-s. 1 of the Constitution provides:—

"1 The State acknowledges that man, in virtue of his rational being, has the natural right, antecedent to positive law, to the private ownership of external goods.

2 The State accordingly guarantees to pass no law attempting to abolish the right of private ownership . . ."

Section 12, sub-s. 1 of the Civil Liability Act, 1961, provides, inter alia, that"concurrent wrongdoers are each liable for the whole of the damage in respect of which they are concurrent wrongdoers".

By s. 14, where judgment is given against concurrent wrongdoers, any judgment given against them together shall take effect as if given separately.

The first plaintiff was a company incorporated pursuant to the provisions of the Transport (Reorganisation of Córas Iompair Éireann éireann) Act, 1986. The second plaintiff was its secretary and the holder of one share therein.

The High Court awarded damages to the fifth defendant for personal injuries which he sustained in a collision between a train, owned and operated by the first plaintiff, and a herd of cattle being driven by the fourth defendant. Liability for the accident was apportioned 30% as against the first plaintiff and 70% as against the fourth defendant. The fourth defendant was a person without significant means, and pursuant to s. 12, sub-s. 1 of the Act of 1961, the first plaintiff was liable to the fifth defendant for the whole of the sum awarded to him in damages.

The plaintiffs sought a declaration that ss. 12 and 14 of the Act of 1961 were invalid having regard to the provisions of Article 40, s. 3 and Article 43 of the Constitution of Ireland, 1937. In the High Court, it was submitted that the provisions of s. 12, sub-s. 1 of the Act of 1961 constituted an unjust attack on their property rights in that the first plaintiff was, by virtue of that provision, liable to the fifth defendant in respect of the whole of the damage he had suffered, notwithstanding the judicial determination that the first plaintiff was only 30% responsible therefor.

The defendants contended that the plaintiffs had no locus standi, since the first plaintiff, as a body corporate, did not enjoy the personal rights referred to in Article 40, s. 3 and Article 43 of the Constitution and the second plaintiff held his share in trust for another body corporate. In the alternative, it was submitted that even if bodies corporate did enjoy those rights, the first plaintiff, being a creature of statute enacted by the Oireachtas, had no power to challenge the constitutional validity of legislation.

The fifth defendant contended that the issues between himself and the first plaintiff determined in the original proceedings were res judicata so that even if ss. 12 and 14 were found to be invalid, his...

To continue reading

Request your trial
37 cases
  • Governors and Guardians of the Hospital for the Relief of Poor Lying-in Women, Dublin v Information Commissioner
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 2 July 2009
    ...LTD & ORS v BORD BAINNE CO-OPERATIVE LTD & ANOR 1990 ILRM 664 1990 ITR 309 1991/4/775 IARNROD EIREANN & DOWLING v IRELAND & ORS 1996 3 IR 321 1995 2 ILRM 161 1995/8/2405 COMPETITION AUTHORITY v IRISH DENTAL ASSOCIATION 2005 3 IR 208 2006 1 ILRM 383 2005/11/2395 2005 IEHC 361 DPP, PEOPLE v K......
  • John E Shirley and Others v A O Gorman and Others
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 31 January 2006
    ...A. O'Gorman & Company Limited, Ireland and The Attorney General Defendants LANDLORD & TENANT (AMDT) ACT 1984 S7 IARNROD EIREANN v IRELAND 1996 3 IR 321 1996 2 ILRM 500 ART 26 OF THE CONSTITUTION & S5 & S10 OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS (TRAFFICKING) BILL 1999, RE 2000 2 IR 360 CONSTITUTION ART 40......
  • The Health (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2004
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 16 February 2005
    ...of Public Works [1985] ILRM 364; Madigan v Attorney General [1986] ILRM 136; Tuohy v Courtney [1994] 3 IR 1; Iarnród Éireann v Ireland [1996] 3 IR 321; White v Dublin City Council [2004] 2 IR 545; ESB v Gormley [1985] IR 129 and Re Housing (Private Rented Dwellings) Bill 1981 [1983] IR 18......
  • White v Bar Council of Ireland
    • Ireland
    • Court of Appeal (Ireland)
    • 6 December 2016
    ...101; [1993] I.L.R.M. 665. Humphrey v. Minister for the Environment [2001] 1 I.R. 263; [2001] 1 I.L.R.M. 241. Iarnród Éireann v. Ireland [1996] 3 I.R. 321; [1995] 2 I.L.R.M. 161. Lovett v. Gogan [1995] 3 I.R. 132; [1995] 1 I.L.R.M. 12. McGowan v. Labour Court [2013] IESC 21, [2013] 3 I.R. 71......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 books & journal articles
  • Asbestos-Related Injury Litigation
    • Ireland
    • Cork Online Law Review Nbr. 6-2007, January 2007
    • 1 January 2007
    ...contributor shall be such as may be found by the court to be just and equitable having regard to the degrees of contributor’s fault.”! 87[1996] 3 IR 321 88Ibid at para. 3.12.! 89Ibid at pp.360.! 90See: J.G. Fleming, ‘Comparative Negligence At Last – By Judicial Choice’ [1976] Cal LR at pp. ......
  • The Constitutional Rights Of Companies by Ailbhe O'Neill
    • Ireland
    • Hibernian Law Journal Nbr. 7-2007, January 2007
    • 1 January 2007
    ...law and company law. As the author notes in her introduction, prior to the judgment of Keane J in Iarnrod Eireann v Ireland [1996] 3 IR 321, no judge had really come to terms directly with the question of whether companies had constitutional rights as such. In much of the previous case law ......
  • The proportionality test: present problems
    • Ireland
    • Irish Judicial Studies Journal Nbr. 1-8, January 2008
    • 1 January 2008
    ...court’s attention on the less forensic question of whether the legislation is _____________________________________________________ 41[1996] 3 I.R. 321. 42 It was suggested that a mechanism whereby the court could apportion the damages owing from each party as would be just and equitable wa......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT