International Fishing Vessels Ltd v Minister for the Marine

JurisdictionIreland
CourtHigh Court
JudgeMr. Justice Blayney
Judgment Date07 September 1989
Neutral Citation1988 WJSC-HC 2385
Docket Number[1988 No. 73 J.R.],No. 73/1988
Date07 September 1989
INTERNATIONAL FISHING VESSELS LTD v. MIN MARINE
(JUDICIAL REVIEW)
BETWEEN/
INTERNATIONAL FISHING VESSELS LIMITED
APPLICANT

AND

THE MINISTER FOR THE MARINE
RESPONDENT

1988 WJSC-HC 2385

No. 73/1988

THE HIGH COURT

Synopsis:

TRIBUNAL

Decision

Reasons - Absence - Minister of State - Function - Grant or refusal of licence - Licence refused without stating reasons - Fair procedures - Declaration that applicant entitled to statement of reasons - In November, 1986, the applicant company applied to the respondent Minister of State pursuant to s. 222B of the Act of 1959 for a licence authorising the applicants" sea- fishing boat to be used for sea fishing either within or without the exclusive fishery limits of the State - The applicants sought such licence as a replacement for a similar licence which had expired - Meetings between representatives of the applicants and of the respondent were held from February to October, 1987, and thereafter the parties exchanged correspondence on the subject of the application - By letter dated 29/1/88 the respondent refused to grant the licence - On 1/2/88 the applicants" solicitors wrote to the respondent and asked to be given in writing the reasons for the respondent's refusal - The respondent's reply was sent on 5/2/88 and stated that the applicants had been given ample opportunity to make representations; that the respondent was not obliged by the relevant legislation to give reasons for his decisions; and that as a matter of policy, he did not give reasons for the manner in which he exercised his discretionary power - The applicants, having obtained leave, applied to the High Court for a mandatory order directing the respondent to furnish to the applicants the grounds of, and the reasons for, his decision to refuse to grant the licence - The applicants also sought an order directing the respondent to send his decision of refusal to the court for the purpose of being quashed - The parties agreed that, in determining the application, the respondent was obliged to observe fair procedures and to exercise his discretion in accordance with constitutional and natural justice; they also agreed that the respondent's decision was reviewable by the Courts - Held that the respondent, in declining to state the reasons for his decision, was placing a serious obstacle in the path of the applicants who were thus (a) deprived of information required by them in order to decide whether or not to challenge the decision and (b) seriously handicapped in any attempt to challenge the decision without knowing the respondent's reasons for making it - Held that the respondent's failure to state the reasons for his decision rendered the procedures adopted by him unfair and not in accordance with the principles of constitutional justice: ~O'Brien v. Bord na Mona~ [1983] I.R. 255; ~The State (Creedon) v. Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal~ and ~The State (Daly) v. Minister for Agriculture~ (Barron J. - 13/2/87) considered - Held that the court would not grant an order of mandamus but would make an order declaring that the applicants were entitled to be furnished by the respondent with a statement in writing setting out his reasons for his decision to refuse the application made by the applicants - Fisheries (Consolidation) Act, 1959, s. 222B - (1988/73 JR - Blayney J. - 7/9/88) [1989] IR 149

|International Fishing Vessels v. Minister for the Marine|

CONSTITUTION

Personal rights

Fair procedures - Licence - Grant - Refusal - Reasons unstated - Statutory power of Minister of State to grant licence - Exercise of Minister's discretion - Declaration that applicant entitled to be furnished with reasons for the Minister's refusal - ~See~ Tribunal, decision - (1988/73 JR - Blayney J. - 7/9/88) 1989 IR 149

|International Fishing Vessels v. Minister for the Marine|

LICENCE

Grant

Refusal - Reasons unstated - Fair procedures - Minister of State - Statutory power to grant licence - Exercise of Minister's discretion - Declaration that applicant entitled to be furnished with the reasons for the Minister's refusal - ~See~ Tribunal, decision - (1988/73 JR - Blayney J. - 7/9/88) [1989] IR 149

|International Fishing Vessels v. Minister for the Marine|

MINISTER OF STATE

Powers

Licence - Grant - Refusal - Reasons unstated - Fair procedures - Exercise of discretion - Declaration that applicant entitled to receive statement in writing of Minister's reasons for his refusal - ~See~ Tribunal, decision - (1988/73 JR - Blayney J. - 7/9/

|International Fishing Vessels v. Minister for the Marine|

Citations:

FISHERIES (CONSOLIDATION) ACT 1959 S222(b)

INTERNATIONAL FISHING VESSELS LTD V MIN MARINE UNREP LYNCH 19.01.87

EAST DONEGAL CO-OP V AG 1970 IR 317

O'BRIEN V BORD NA MONA 1983 IR 255

DALY, STATE V MIN AGRICULTURE 1987 IR 165

CREEDON, STATE V CRIMINAL INJURIES COMPENSATION TRIBUNAL 1988 IR 51 1989 ILRM 104

FISHERIES (CONSOLIDATION) ACT 1959 S222(b)(2)

FISHERIES (CONSOLIDATION) ACT 1959 S222(b)(7)

FISHERIES (CONSOLIDATION) ACT 1959 S222(b)(6)

CIVIL SERVICE REGULATION ACT 1956 S7

CIVIL SERVICE REGULATION (AMDT) ACT 1958 S3

LYNCH, STATE V COONEY 1982 IR 337, 1982 ILRM 190, 1983 ILRM 89

FISHERIES (AMDT) ACT 1983 S8

FISHERIES (CONSOLIDAITON) ACT 1959 S222(B)(6)(a)

1

Judgment of Mr. Justice Blayney delivered the 7th day of September 1989.

2

This is an application for Judicial Review of a decision of the Respondent (to whom I shall refer as the Minister) under Section 222 (B) of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act, 1959(being the section inserted in that Act by the Fisheries (Amendment) Act 1983) whereby the Minister refused applications for licences for two sea-fishing boats the property of the Applicant. The application raises an important question of law, namely, whether the Minister is obliged to give reasons for his refusal to grant the licences. The Applicant contends that he is and seeks an Order directing the Minister to furnish to the Applicant the grounds upon which and the reasons for which he refused to grant the licences. An Order is also sought quashing the decision refusing the licences.

3

The facts giving rise to the application are not in dispute. The Applicant is a Company incorporated in the State. Its name at the date of incorporation was Brunian Limited. This was changed to Ardent Fisheries Limited on the 28th May 1986, and its present name was adopted on the 14th December 1987. Forty nine per cent of the shares in the Applicant are owned by Interpesco S.A., a Company incorporated in Spain, and the remaining fifty one per cent by two Irish Citizens. The two sea-fishing boats owned by the Applicant are the Saladina and the Itxaso both of which are registered in the State in the ships registry and in the register of fishing boats under Part IV of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894.

4

The Applicant was granted four licences in respect of each boat covering the period from the 1st March 1986 to the 31st October 1986. The last licence in respect of each boat was from the 1st August 1986 to the 31st October 1986 and contained a condition as follows:-

"(1) The boat to which this licence relates shall not be used for sea-fishing whether within the exclusive fishery limits of the State or otherwise, unless at least 75% of the members of the crew are either -"

(a) Irish Citizens, or

(b) Nationals of any of the member states of the European Communities (excluding until the 1st day of January 1988 any Greek Nationals and, until the 1st day of January 1993 any Spanish or Portuguese Nationals who are not the spouse or children under 21 of Greek, Spanish or Portuguese workers already installed in the State in accordance with the transitional arrangements on the free movement of workers following the accession of Greece, Spain and Portugal to the communities as provided for in the relevant accession treaties)."

5

The Itxaso was arrested on the 27th August 1986 for breach of this condition, and on the 4th November 1986 the Applicant commenced proceedings in this Court against the Minister, Ireland and the Attorney General seeking to challenge the validity of the condition. An application for an Interlocutory Injunction to restrain the Minister from enforcing the condition pending the trial of the action was refused by Lynch, J. in a reserved judgment delivered on the 19th January 1987.

6

At the end of October 1986 or the beginning of November the Applicant applied for the renewal of its licences and throughout 1987 the Applicant was in communication with the Department of the Marine in connection with its application for such renewal. Meetings were held in February and October 1987 which were attended by representatives of the Applicant and the Department, and in the period between the meetings, and subsequently, the parties were in correspondence. Finally, by letter dated the 29th January 1988 the Minister refused the application. That letter was in the following terms:-

7

Department of the Marine,

8

Leeson Lane,

9

Dublin 2.

10

Michael Tyrell, Esq.,

11

Matheson Ormsby and Prentice,

12

Solicitors,

13

20 Upper Merrion Street,

14

Dublin 2.

15

Dear Sir,

16

I am to refer further to your applications for sea-fishing boat licences under Section 222 (B) (inserted by the Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1983) of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act, 1959on behalf of International Trawlers Limited in respect of M.F.V. Itxaso and M.F.V. Saladina.

17

The Minister for the Marine, after giving the matter full consideration, hereby informs you that he has refused both applications.

18

Immediately on receipt of this letter the Applicant's Solicitors wrote on the 1st February 1988 asking to be furnished with the Minister's reasons for his refusal, and giving notice that unless they received the detailed reasons in writing by the 5th February 1988 application for Judicial Review of the Minister's decision would be made without...

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