Joyce v Minister for Health

JurisdictionIreland
Judgment Date30 July 2004
Date30 July 2004
Docket Number[2004 No. 17422]
CourtHigh Court
Joyce v. Minister for Health
William P. Joyce
Plaintiff
and
The Minister for Health and Children, Andrew Bradley, Mary Hynes, John Bulfin, George Henry and Noel Blake
Defendants
[2004] IEHC 290
[2004 No. 17422]

High Court

Administrative law - Constitutional rights - Natural justice - Fair procedures - Denial of fair hearing - Capacity of chairman to discharge function - Proper conduct of committee - Health (Removal of Officers and Servants) Regulations 1971(S.I. No. 110) - Health Act 1970 (No.1), ss. 22, 23 and 24.

The plaintiff was a consultant surgeon who was suspended pursuant to s. 22 of the Health Act 1970. The plaintiff issued proceedings challenging his suspension and investigation by a committee established pursuant to s. 24 of the Health Act 1970. The committee comprised of the second to sixth defendants and was chaired by the second defendant. After 41 days of hearings the plaintiff sought,inter alia, an injunction or order restraining the committee from resuming its hearings and an order restraining the second defendant from continuing to act as chairman. The plaintiff's complaints in relation to the second defendant's conduct of the committee were firstly, the fact that there was a smell of alcohol detectable by the plaintiff from the second defendant on occasions during the hearings of the committee. Secondly, the second defendant failed to turn up without any prior notice on three occasions and no explanation was ever offered in relation to these absences. The plaintiff further complained that he was approached by the second defendant who placed his arm on his shoulder and engaged in conversation during which the plaintiff detected a strong smell of alcohol from him. The plaintiff submitted that he was disturbed by this approach in the absence of his legal advisors.

It was submitted by the plaintiff that the cumulative effect of the foregoing left him with a complete loss of confidence in the capacity of the second defendant to discharge his statutory function as chairman of the committee and as a result, he was denied a fair hearing into issues which were of the gravest importance to him having regard to his livelihood and his personal and professional reputation. As a consequence of this, the plaintiff submitted there had been a breach of his constitutional right to fair procedures.

It was submitted, inter alia, on behalf of the defendants that the plaintiff had failed to point to any error in the conduct of the proceedings of the committee on the part of the second defendant and hence on that ground alone the relief sought should be refused.

Held by the High Court (O'Neill J.), in granting an interlocutory injunction restraining the entire committee from resuming its hearings, 1, that, having regard to the seriousness of the issues which were involved from the point of view of the plaintiff's livelihood and his professional and personal reputation, he was entitled to have the matters under consideration by the committee heard and determined by a tribunal, all of whose members had the capacity at all times during the course of the hearings and in reaching a conclusion or recommendation, to properly discharge their function.

2. That, even though no error had been demonstrated on the part of the second defendant in the conduct of the hearings, the matters of which the plaintiff complained in themselves demonstrated an actual lack of capacity on the part of the second defendant to discharge his function and additionally, would inevitably and unavoidably lead, on the part of any ordinary reasonable person, to a loss of confidence in the capacity of the second defendant to discharge his function in a fair and competent manner.

3. That, in addition to the plaintiff's constitutional right to fair procedures, there was also in issue the principle that not only must justice be done but it must be seen to be done. For that principle to be invoked a very high threshold of proof was required to protect the proceedings of the many and varied tribunals that sit on a daily basis in this jurisdiction from unmeritorious allegations designed to frustrate their proceedings. The matters of which the plaintiff complained were of such a serious nature as to have crossed that threshold and justified the granting of a relief on that ground alone.

Cases mentioned in this report:-

Dineen v. Judge Delap [1994] 2 I.R. 228.

Orange Ltd. v. Director of Telecoms (No. 2) [2000] 4 I.R. 159.

Motion on notice

The facts of the case have been summarised in the headnote and are more fully set out in the judgment of O'Neill J., infra.

The plaintiff issued these proceedings by way of motion on notice filed on the 23rd July, 2004, challenging his suspension and investigation by a committee established pursuant to s. 24 of the Health Act 1970.

The plaintiff sought interlocutory relief in the form of, inter alia, an injunction or order restraining the second to sixth defendants from resuming their hearings on the 11th August, 2004.

The plaintiff also sought an order restraining the second defendant from continuing to act as chairman of the committee and further, an injunction or order directing the first defendant to terminate the suspension of the plaintiff pursuant to s. 22(3) of the Health Act 1970.

The application was heard by the High Court (O'Neill J.) on the 28th July, 2004.

Cur. adv. vult.

O'Neill J.

30th July, 2004

1 The plaintiff is a consultant surgeon employed at Cavan General Hospital, but currently suspended pursuant to s. 22 of the Health Act 1970. The second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth defendants are members of a committee established under s. 24 of the Health Act 1970 to inquire into a proposal to remove from office the plaintiff and to make recommendations to the Chief Executive of the North Eastern Health Board. The second defendant is the chairman of this committee.

2 The committee began its hearings on the 17th February, 2004 and between that date and the 30th June, 2004, sat on 41 days.

3 In these proceedings by his motion on notice the plaintiff seeks,inter alia, an injunction or order restraining the second to sixth defendants from resuming their hearings on the 11th August, 2004 and if necessary, an order restraining the second defendant from continuing to act as the chairman of the said committee appointed by the first defendant pursuant to s. 24 of the Health Act 1970 and also for an injunction or order directing the first defendant to terminate the suspension of the plaintiff pursuant to s. 22(3) of the Health Act 1970.

4 The plaintiff's complaint is, as set out in his affidavit, to the effect that from an early stage of the hearings of the committee and on many occasions throughout the hearings the plaintiff, who sat directly opposite the chairman beside his counsel, got a strong smell of alcohol from the chairman.

5 He complains further that on three occasions namely, Wednesday the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
4 cases
  • Goode Concrete v CRH Plc
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • July 31, 2015
    ...carry the burden of proof is a most important one. Moreover, the standard of proof is a high one. In Joyce v. Minister for Health [2004] 4 I.R. 293 at p. 302, Mr. Justice O'Neill said, at paragraph 27 of his judgment: ‘… there is also in issue the principle that not only must justice be don......
  • Callely v Moylan and Others
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • January 14, 2011
    ...v. Director of Telecoms (No. 2) [2000] 4 I.R. 159; Spin Communications Ltd. v. I.R.T.C. [2001] 4 I.R. 411; Joyce v. Minister for Health [2004] 4 I.R. 293; Landers v. Director of Public Prosecutions [2004] 2 I.R. 363; Bula Ltd. v. Tara Mines Ltd. (No. 6) [2000] 4 I.R. 412. Denham J descri......
  • O'Callaghan v Mahon
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • March 30, 2007
    ...v CANADA (COMMISSION OF INQUIRY ON THE BLOOD SYSTEM 1997 3 SCR 440 LAWLOR v FLOOD 1999 3 IR 107 1999 16 4678 JOYCE v MIN FOR HEALTH & ORS 2004 4 IR 293 2004 23 5314 LANDERS v DPP 2004 2 IR 363 2004 27 6259 WATSON, IN RE EX PARTE ARMSTRONG 1976 50 ALJR 778 LOCABAIL (UK) LTD v BAYFIELD PROP......
  • Kenny v Trinity College Dublin
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • October 15, 2007
    ...v INDEPENDENT RADIO & TELEVISION COMMISSION (IRTC) & MAYPRIL LTD 2001 4 IR 411 2002 1 ILRM 98 2001 23 6256 JOYCE v MIN FOR HEALTH & ORS 2004 4 IR 293 2004 23 5314 LANDERS v DPP 2004 2 IR 363 BULA v TARA MINES 2000 4 IR 412 LOCABAIL (UK) LTD v BAYFIELD PROPERTIES LTD & ANOR 2000 2 WLR 8......

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