Kerins v Deputy McGuinness

 
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[2017] IESCDET 77

THE SUPREME COURT

DETERMINATION

Denham C.J.

Clarke J.

O'Malley J.

BETWEEN
ANGELA KERINS
APPLICANT
AND
DEPUTY JOHN MCGUINNESS DEPUTY MARY LOU MCDONALD DEPUTY SHANE ROSS DEPUTY ÁINE COLLINS DEPUTY PAUL J. CONNAUGHTON DEPUTY JOHN DEASY DEPUTY ROBERT DOWDS DEPUTY SEÁN FLEMING DEPUTY SIMON HARRIS DEPUTY EOGHAN MURPHY DEPUTY GERALD NASH DEPUTY DEREK NOLAN DEPUTY KIERAN O'DONNELL THE CLERK OF DÁIL ÉIREANN THE CLERK OF THE PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE IRELAND

AND

THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
RESPONDENTS
APPLICATION FOR LEAVE TO APPEAL TO WHICH ARTICLE 34.5.4° OF THE CONSTITUTION APPLIES
RESULT: The Court grants leave to appeal to the Supreme Court directly from the High Court.
1

This determination relates to decisions of a Divisional Court of the High Court (Kelly P., Noonan, Kennedy JJ.). There are three applications for leave before the Court.

(i) 71/17 is an application by Angela Kerins, the applicant/appellant, and hereinafter referred to as ‘the applicant’, from a decision of the Divisional Court of the High Court, delivered on the 31st January, 2017, and order of the 5th April, 2017, was perfected on the 7th April, 2017, which dismissed her claim arising out of proceedings which took place before the Public Accounts Committee of Dáil Éireann.

(ii) 73/17 is an application for leave by the first fifteen respondents, the Public Accounts Committee, hereinafter referred to as ‘PAC’. This application relates to the order of the 5th April, 2017, perfected on the 7th April, 2017, and is an application in relation to that part of the order as awarded the applicant two thirds of her costs of the High Court proceedings together with 100% of the transcript costs, to be taxed in default of agreement.

(iii) 78/17 is an application by the 16th and 17th respondents, Ireland and the Attorney General, the State, and referred to as ‘the State’, from that part of the order of the High Court of the 5th April, 2017, which was perfected on the 7th April, 2017, which made no order for costs.

2

This is, therefore, a series of applications for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court directly from the High Court. They are what may be termed ‘leapfrog’ applications.

3

The Court considered first the application by the applicant for leave to appeal the decision of the Divisional Court which dismissed her claim for relief.

Jurisdiction
4

The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to hear appeals is set out in the Constitution.

5

Article 34 of the Constitution provides for the public administration of justice; describes the courts established by the Constitution, and those which may be established by law; provides for the full and original jurisdiction of the High Court; establishes the Court of Appeal under Article 34.2; and sets out its appellate jurisdiction under Article 34.4.1°. This states:

‘1° The Court of Appeal shall –

(i) Save as otherwise provided by this Article and,

(ii) with such exceptions and subject to such regulations as may be prescribed by law,

have appellate jurisdiction from all decisions of the High Court, and shall also have appellate jurisdiction from such decisions of other courts as may be prescribed by law.’

6

Article 34.4.3° of the Constitution provides for the finality of decisions of the Court of Appeal, save for appeals that may be taken to the Supreme Court from its decisions under Article 34.5.3°.

7

Under Article 34.5.4° it is possible for a decision of the High Court to be directly appealed to the Supreme Court, bypassing the Court of Appeal. This type of appeal is sometimes referred to colloquially as a ‘leap-frog’ appeal.

8

The decision of the Supreme Court under Article 34.5.6 is, in all cases, ‘final and conclusive’.

9

Primarily, this Court is now ‘subject to such regulations as may be prescribed by law’, an appellate jurisdiction from the Court of Appeal. Such an appeal may only be exercised provided that this Court is satisfied, either that the relevant decision of the Court of Appeal ‘involves a matter of general public importance’, or, alternatively, that it is ‘in the interests of justice’, necessary that there be an appeal to this Court. The constitutional framework established by the 33rd Amendment of the Constitution thus requires, in order for a party to be entitled to appeal to this Court from a decision of the Court of Appeal, that it be demonstrated that either ‘a matter of general public importance’ arises, or that, ‘in the interests of justice, it is necessary that there be an appeal’ to this Court.

10

In order for this Court to grant leave to bring an appeal from the High Court, a leapfrog appeal, it must be the case that the issues raised are such that they would justify granting leave for a second appeal from the Court of Appeal to this Court, had the course of action of an appeal to the Court of Appeal been adopted by the applicant. Therefore, the basic constitutional threshold of public importance or interests of justice, which must be met in respect of an application to bring an ordinary appeal from the Court of Appeal to this Court, must also be met in the context of the leapfrog appeal.

11

In addition, there must be present, in order that leave be granted to appeal from the High Court, in accordance with the words of Article 34.5.4° ‘that there are exceptional circumstances warranting a direct appeal’ to this Court.

12

The decision of the Supreme Court under Article 34.5.6° is, in all cases, ‘final and conclusive’.

13

The Rules of Court are set out in the amended Order 58 of the Rules of the Superior Courts.

No...

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