Independant Newspapers [Ire] Ltd -v- Murphy Junior, [2006] IEHC 276 (2006)

Docket Number:2003 7197 p
Party Name:Independant Newspapers [Ire] Ltd, Murphy Junior
Judge:Clarke J.
 
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THE HIGH COURT[2003 No. 7197 P]BETWEENINDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS (IRELAND) LIMITEDPLAINTIFFand

JOSEPH MURPHY JUNIORDEFENDANTJUDGMENT of Mr. Justice Clarke delivered on the 28th day of July, 2006

  1. Introduction

    1.1 On the 2nd May, 2006, the Master of the High Court ordered that the plaintiff ("Independent") make discovery of a category of documents described in the order of the Master in the following terms:-"All articles prepared and/or published by journalists writing for the plaintiff prior to the 20th July, 2001, on the issue of the defendant's alleged attendance at Ray Burke's house in May/June 1989, together with memoranda or notes of any unpublished information irrespective of the reliability of its source contained in the instructions of the plaintiff to its lawyers prior to the 20th July, 2001."1.2 The category which had been sought by the defendant ("Mr. Murphy") differed in some respects from the category directed to be discovered by the Master.

    1.3 Independent has appealed against the order of the Master and this judgment is concerned with that appeal.

    1.4 As in all cases of discovery an important starting point has to be a consideration of the issues which arise in the proceedings to which discovery is directed. As these proceedings are somewhat unusual in nature it is necessary to turn, firstly, to those proceedings and the issues which may or are likely to arise in them.

  2. The Substantive Proceedings

    2.1 On the 17th May, 1998, Independent published an article which referred to a Michael Bailey as being famous for being "the man in Ray Burke's house when a brown paper bag with IR£50,000 in cash was handed over to the former Minister by Joseph Murphy of J.M.S.E. as a campaign contribution".

    2.2 On the 29th May, 1998, Mr. Murphy commenced proceedings in this court (record No. 1998/64/89P) in which he claimed damages for alleged defamation arising out of that article ("the defamation proceedings").

    2.3 It would appear that the defamation proceedings were compromised on the 20th July, 2001, as a result of an agreement reached between the respective solicitors for both parties on terms that Independent would pay to Mr. Murphy a sum of IR£53,000 inclusive of costs and would publish an agreed apology.

    2.4 It would also appear that the terms of that compromise were implemented, with the sum of money being paid and the apology appearing in the agreed form in the Sunday Independent on the 22nd July, 2001. Resulting from those two matters, the defamation proceedings were struck out by consent with no further order on the 16th October, 2001.

    2.5 It is clear that Mr. Murphy's case, as made in the defamation proceedings, was to the effect that he was never present in Mr. Burke's house on the occasion in question and never paid any sum of money to Mr. Burke. It also needs to be added that that question, together with related issues, formed the central focus of the earlier considerations of the Flood Tribunal.

    2.6 In these proceedings Independent maintains that the defamation proceedings were based upon a false representation by Mr. Murphy to the effect that he had not been present in Mr. Burke's house on the occasion in question and had not handed any sum of money to Mr. Burke. It is contended, therefore, that the proceedings were a malicious abuse of the process of the Court and were based upon fraudulent misrepresentation. In those circumstances, it is contended that Independent is entitled to have appropriate declarations or orders which would set aside or rescind the settlement agreement. Damages are also claimed. In his defence, Mr. Murphy claims that, as of the date of the settlement of the defamation proceedings, all evidence, whether oral or documentary, and all submissions, relating to the relevant events in Mr. Burke's house had been heard by the Flood Tribunal and were publicly available. Mr. Murphy also states that by the time the settlement had been reached, Independent had obtained discovery from Mr. Murphy in the defamation...

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