Leyden v Attorney General

JurisdictionIreland
CourtSupreme Court (Irish Free State)
Judgment Date21 December 1926
Docket Number(1924. No. 4.)
Date21 December 1926
Leyden v. Attorney-General and Others.
MARTIN LEYDEN
Plaintiff
and
THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF THE IRISH FREE STATE, EOIN Mac NEILL, P. O'BROLCHAIN, S. O'NEILL, and the COMMISSIONERS OF NATIONAL EDUCATION IN IRELAND, Defendants (1)
(1924. No. 4.)

Supreme Court.

Education - National teacher - Contract of service with Commissioners of National Education - Construction - Ambiguity as to amount of salary - Whether amount fixed by reference to antecedent regulations of the Commissioners - Power to vary - "Permanent salary" - War bonus - Application for fixed increase - Matter referred to Civil Service Arbitration Board - Binding effect of Board's award - Validity of subsequent reduction of salary - Transfer of jurisdiction from Commissioners of National Education to National Education Commissioners - Validity of Statutory Order - Appointments made thereunder - Action claiming a declaration of rights against a Government Department - Enforceability of contract where payment is dependent upon a grant from Parliament - Constitution of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Éireann éireann) Act, 1922 (No. 1 of 1922), Sch. I, Arts. 73 and 80 - Adaptation of Enactments Act, 1922 (No. 2 of 1922), sect. 7, sub-sects.1, 3, and 4; sect. 15, sub-sect. 1 - Provisional Government (Transfer of Functions) Order, 1922 (Stat. R. & Or., 1922, No. 315) - National Education Commissioners Order, 1923 (Stat. R. & Or., No. 10 of 1923).

By an agreement made in 1912 between the Commissioners of National Education and the local manager of the Central Boys' Model School of the one part and the plaintiff of the other part, the local manager agreed to employ the plaintiff as the assistant teacher of the school on the terms and conditions therein stated. Clause 7 of the agreement provided:"The salary and emoluments of the teacher are as follows:—as determined by the Commissioners of National Education." The Commissioners were a body created by Royal Charter in 1845, and had from time to time made rules and regulations dealing with the work of elementary education, and, at the date when the plaintiff was appointed, rules 106 to 118 of those rules prescribed the "grade salary" and other remuneration payable to the various classes of teachers and the various grades of those classes. Under Rule 108 (c) the Commissioners reserved to themselves the right to alter the rates of grade salary, and of continued good service salary from time to time with the approval of the Treasury. The plaintiff was paid the "grade salary" until the outbreak of the European war; and then was paid, with all other National teachers, various additional sums by way of war bonus. In 1920 an agitation was begun by the Irish National] Teachers' Organization to have the teachers' remuneration put on a permanent basis, and a lengthy correspondence took place between that Organization, the Commissioners, and the Treasury. Ultimately, in July, 1920, the Treasury agreed that the question of remuneration should be referred for arbitration to the Civil Service Arbitration Board in London. After consultations between all the parties, an agreement was reached, and the Arbitration Board issued a "memorandum of settlement by agreement,"dated 29th November, 1920, which was signed on behalf of the Board, the Treasury, the Commissioners of National Education, and the Irish National Teachers' Organization. In December, 1920, a circular letter headed:"New Permanent Scales of Salaries for National Teachers," was sent by

the Commissioners of National Education to all the teachers (including the plaintiff), stating that in accordance with the decision of the Civil Service Arbitration Board the provisions set out in the circular were to become operative from 1st April, 1920. In April, 1921, the Commissioners wrote to the plaintiff, referring to the agreement of 29th November, 1920, and informed the plaintiff of his proper placing in the new scale.

In August, 1923, the Executive Council of the Irish Free State, purporting to act in exercise of the powers conferred on them by sect. 7 of the Adaptation of Enactments Act, 1922 (No. 2 of 1922), made an Order, viz.:—the National Education Commissioners Order, 1923 (No. 10 of 1923), establishing a Board of Commissioners to be known as the"National Education Commissioners," and to consist of two Commissioners who were to exercise in the Irish Free State all the functions which were, on 6th December, 1921, exercisable therein by the Commissioners of National Education. Subsequently, in exercise of the powers conferred by the said Order, the defendants, P. O'Brolchain and S. O'Neill, were appointed the two National Education Commissioners.

In November, 1923, the plaintiff received a circular letter from the defendant, P. O'Brolchain, as such National Education Commissioner, informing him that a reduction of 10 per cent. in the emoluments of teachers would take effect from 1st November, 1923, and in accordance therewith the plaintiff's salary was paid at a rate reduced by 10 per cent. as from that date.

Plaintiff brought an action against the Attorney-General of the Irish Free State, Eoin Mac Neill, as Minister of Education and as a Member of the Executive Council, the National Education Commissioners, and the Commissioners of National Education, claiming (1) a declaration that the award of the Arbitration Board and the scales of salaries and conditions of service contained therein were binding on the Commissioners of National Education, on the National Education Commissioners, on the Ministry of Education, and on the Executive Council; (2) a declaration that plaintiff was entitled to a permanent salary calculated in accordance with the scale fixed by the said award; (3) alternatively, a declaration that the National Education Commissioners' Order, 1923, was illegal and void; and (4) that the appointment thereunder of National Education Commissioners was illegal:

Held by the Supreme Court, affirming Meredith J., that the new arrangement as to remuneration was not of a permanent character in the sense that it could not be altered without the consent of the teacher, because the scale agreed upon could be altered under Rule 108 (c), but it was permanent in the sense that it was no longer partly contingent upon a bonus which might be withdrawn.

Held also (by Murnaghan and O'Shaughnessy JJ.), that the plaintiff was entitled to a declaration (varying that granted by Meredith J.), that the award of the Civil Service Arbitration Board and the scales of salaries and conditions of service contained therein were binding on the defendants, other than the Commissioners of National Education, and that the plaintiff was entitled to the salary and emoluments fixed in accordance with the scale in the circular letter of December, 1920, until such was validly altered by the National Education Commissioners under Rule 108 (c), but without deciding whether any alteration purporting to have been made had been validly made.

Held further, by the Supreme Court, that the National Education Commissioners Order, 1923 (No. 10 of 1923), was a valid Order.

Witness Action.

The plaintiff, Martin Leyden, entered into an agreement, dated 13th September, 1912, with the Commissioners of National Education and the local manager of the Central Boys' Model School, whereby the manager agreed to employ the plaintiff as the assistant teacher of the school, and the plaintiff brought this action claiming a series of declarations in reference to his salary as such teacher. The agreement signed by the plaintiff was as follows:—

"Memorandum of Agreement made the 13th September, 1912, between the Commissioners of National Education and local manager of the Central Boys' Model School (hereinafter called the manager) of the one part and Mr. Martin Leyden, assistant teacher of the said school (hereinafter called the teacher), of the other part:—

1. The manager agrees to employ the teacher as the assistant teacher of the Central Boys' Model School from the 13th day of August, 1912, henceforth until the expiration of three calendar months from the date at which notice in writing shall have been given by either side to the other to determine the said employment.

2. The manager shall have absolute power to determine the said employment at any time without previous notice on the payment by him to the teacher of three months' grade salary.

3. The manager shall also have power to determine the said employment, without previous notice, for misconduct or other sufficient reason; but in every case of such determination the teacher shall be entitled to three months' grade salary, to be paid by the manager, unless such manager shall obtain the declaration of the opinion of the Commissioners of National Education that such determination of employment was for sufficient cause, in which latter case the teacher shall not be entitled to any compensation.

4. In the event of the employment being determined by the manager on the ground of misconduct or other sufficient reason (under Article 3), the opinion of the Commissioners of National Education that such determination was or was not justified shall be conclusive and final to all intents and purposes, and a letter to that effect signed by the Acting Secretaries or Secretary of the Commissioners shall be conclusive evidence between the parties of such opinion.

5. In case the teacher shall determine the said employment at any time without giving three calendar months' notice as hereinbefore provided (except for good and sufficient reason in the opinion of the Commissioners and evidenced by a letter signed as above mentioned) he shall forfeit any salary and emoluments or any part of such salary and emoluments then due to him as the Commissioners may order.

6. The duties of the teacher shall be such as are in accordance with the Rules of the Commissioners.

7. The salary and emoluments of the teacher are as follows:—

As determined by the Commissioners of...

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5 cases
  • Crowley v Ireland
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 21 July 1978
    ...In support of this contention the plaintiffs referred to the Judgment of Mr. Justice Murnaghan inLevden .v. Attorney General and ors. ( 1926 I.R.334 at p 354) in which the history of the State control over primary education in Ireland since 1831 is described. The rules and regulations issue......
  • Bohane v Driscoll
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court (Irish Free State)
    • 19 February 1929
    ...[1907] S. C. 1102. (13) [1908] S. C. 1034, at p. 1039. (14) [1899] 2 I.R. 1. (15) [1917] 2 I.R. 73, 621. (16) [1900] 1 Q. B. 535. (17) [1926] I.R. 334. (18) 68 J. P. 158. (1) 4 C. B. (N.S.) (2) L. R. 2 C. P. 371, at p. 375. (3) [1913] 1 K. B. 398, at p. 415. (4) 12 P. D. 58, at p. 92. (1) [......
  • Crowley v Ireland
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 1 January 1980
    ...213. 4 Meskell v. Córas Iompair Éireann éireann [1973] I.R. 121. 5 Murphy v. Stewart [1973] I.R. 97. 6 Leyden v. The Attorney General [1926] I.R. 334. 7 McEneaney v. The Minister for Education [1941] I.R. 430. 8 O'Callaghan v. The Minister for Education (Supreme Court-31/3/55) 9 Doyle, In r......
  • Re McEneaney v Minister for Education
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 17 December 1941
    ...... qualification for increment, theretofore depending, according to the evidence, solely on general efficiency, and the plaintiff complains that he was, by reason of the new rule 77, deprived of the ... position of the plaintiff is, in my opinion, made clear by the decision of this Court in Leyden v. Attorney-General (1) . The Department in the interest of economy had imposed a general cut of 10 ......
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