Keane -v- Western Health Board & Anor, [2006] IEHC 370 (2006)

Docket Number:2000 8232 P
Party Name:Keane, Western Health Board & Anor
Judge:Quirke J.



Addendum delivered on the 22nd day of November, 2006 to the judgment of the Hon. Mr. Justice Quirke, previously delivered on the 2nd day of October 2006.

I have received further written submissions from the defendants in relation to the possible effect of the provisions of s. 31 of the Civil Liability Act, 1961 on the issue of contribution and indemnity in these proceedings.

On behalf of the first named defendant it is contended that the Health Board's claim against the estate of Dr. Meehan for indemnity and contribution differs fundamentally from the plaintiff's claim against the defendants.

Mr. Keane S.C. argues that the Board's claim is for an order protecting the Board from liability for alleged negligence on the part of the late Dr. Meehan. He contends that, as such, it cannot be categorised as a " proceeding" within the meaning ascribed to that word by the provisions of subsection (2) of s. 9 of the Act of 1961.

He claims that the Board's claim comprises "an action… for contribution" within the meaning ascribed to that term by the provisions of s. 31 of the Act which expressly permits the Board's claims to be commenced "within the period of two

years after the liability of the claimant is ascertained or the injured person's damages are paid, whichever is the greater".

Mr. McGrath S.C., on behalf of the estate of Dr. Meehan, contends that s. 31 of the Act has no express application to the facts of this case. He points to the fact that the s. 30 of the Act provides that the right to contribution is expressly "deemed to be a cause of action within s. 9" of the Act. He argues that a claim for contribution must accordingly be categorised as a "proceeding" within the meaning of that section and must be deemed to be regulated by the statutory time limit prescribed by the section.

Additionally Mr Mc Grath invoked the maxim "generalia specialibus non derogant". He contended that the express provisions of s 9 should be preferred to the more general provisions of s 31.

The Rule of statutory construction known as "generalia specialibus non derogant" is defined as a rule which requires that "general things do not derogate from special things". (See Murdoch's Dictionary of Irish Law, 4th Ed.)

In summary the rule provides that where an earlier statute deals expressly and precisely with a particular issue, a later statute...

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