Mannion v The Legal Aid Board
|MR. JUSTICE MICHAEL PEART
|20 February 2019
| IECA 42
|Court of Appeal (Ireland)
|Record Number: 2017/321
|20 February 2019
 IECA 42
THE COURT OF APPEAL
Record Number: 2017/321
Plenary summons – Proceedings struck out – Bound to fail – Respondents seeking to have the appellant’s proceedings struck out – Whether the claim as pleaded against the respondents was unsustainable and bound to fail
Facts: By order of the High Court (Barrett J) two sets of proceedings commenced by the plaintiff/appellant, Ms Mannion, by way of plenary summons were struck out as against the second, third and fourth defendants/respondents, the Minister for Justice and Law Reform, the Attorney General and Ireland, on their application brought by way of notice of motion dated 3rd January 2017. The basis on which those defendants sought to have the appellant’s proceedings struck out was pursuant to the inherent jurisdiction of the Court and on the basis that the claim as pleaded against them was unsustainable and bound to fail and or that her claim against them was frivolous and vexatious. The appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal against that order.
Held by Peart J that there was no case made out against those particular respondents that was either not bound to fail, or where the issue sought to be agitated had not already been the subject of a judicial determination.
Peart J held that he would dismiss the appeal.
By order of the High Court (Barrett J.) two sets of proceedings commenced by the plaintiff, the appellant in this appeal, by way of plenary summons were struck out as against the 2nd, 3rd and 4th named defendants on their application brought by way of notice of motion dated 3rd January 2017. The basis on which those defendants sought to have the appellant's proceedings struck out was pursuant to the inherent jurisdiction of the Court and on the basis that the claim as pleaded against them is unsustainable and bound to fail and or that her claim against them is frivolous and vexatious.
I will refer to the said proceedings simply as ‘the 2010 proceedings’ or ‘the 2013 proceedings’, or simply as ‘the proceedings’ where no distinction is required.
The factual background to how the plaintiff came to institute the proceedings in question is well summarised in the judgment of the trial judge. An important feature of that background is that an earlier judicial review proceeding commenced by the plaintiff against the Legal Aid Board in 2006 was heard and determined by the High Court (McGovern J.). For reasons set forth in his written judgment ( ) he refused the reliefs she was seeking, including a declaration that the Legal Aid Board had failed to provide her with a solicitor in private practice, rather than a solicitor employed by the Legal Aid Board. She had contended that this decision constituted a breach of her constitutional rights and that it was also contrary to the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights, she had contended also that the Civil Legal Aid Act, 1995 fails to satisfy the constitutional obligations of the Minister for Justice and Ireland and the Attorney General in relation to the provision of free legal aid for civil cases in breach of Art. 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The dismissal of her judicial review proceedings on all grounds was the subject of her appeal to the Supreme Court. That appeal was unsuccessful.
It was following the dismissal of her said appeal in the Supreme Court that the appellant commenced the 2010 proceedings by way of plenary summons. However, as noted by the trial judge, she did not deliver a statement of claim until 16th February 2015. Prior to the delivery of that statement of claim she had commenced the 2013 proceedings on 9th December 2013 and in respect of which she delivered her statement of claim on 2nd March 2015. As the trial judge notes in para. 4 of his judgment, ‘although both statements of claim differ in certain non-material respects, they both arise from the same set of circumstances and have the same or practically similar objectives’ as the earlier 2006 proceedings already referred to.
On 29th September 2015, the Chief State Solicitor's office wrote to the plaintiff on behalf of the present respondents stating that the proceedings were bound to fail and that they were frivolous and vexatious. That office wrote again in November 2016 to inform the appellant that they intended to bring an application to have both sets of proceedings struck out, but went on to offer that it would not seek costs against her if she would agree simply to discontinue both sets of proceedings. However she declined to do so and that decision by her resulted in the issue of a notice of motion in both the 2010 and 2013 proceedings in which the present respondents sought to have her claims against the second, third and fourth defendants struck out on the basis that the claims against them as pleaded were bound to fail, and also on the ground that those claims were frivolous and vexatious since the issues...
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