McKerring v Min Agriculture

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeO'Hanlon J.
Judgment Date01 January 1989
Neutral Citation1987 WJSC-HC 1945
Docket NumberNo. 2502P 1983
CourtHigh Court
Date01 January 1989
MCKERRING v. MIN AGRICULTURE
BETWEEN/
JAMES McKERRING
PLAINTIFF
-and-
THE MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE
DEFENDANT

1987 WJSC-HC 1945

No. 2502P 1983

THE HIGH COURT

Synopsis:

CONTRACT

Formation

Government - Scheme - Grants - Non-statutory basis - Contractual obligations - Ministerial discretion - Headage grants payable under tuberculosis and brucellosis schemes for slaughter of reactor cattle - Conditional entitlement to grants - ~See~ Government, grants - (1983/2502 P - O'Hanlon J. - 5/10/87)

|McKerring v. Minister for Agriculture|

GOVERNMENT

Grants

Cattle - Disease - Eradication - Non-statutory scheme - Contractual obligations - Ministerial discretion - Headage grants payable under tuberculosis and brucellosis eradication schemes - Conditional entitlement to payments - The plaintiff claimed from the defendant payment of #19,500 being the sum alleged by the plaintiff to be payable to him under the schemes in respect of the plaintiff's reactor cattle which had been slaughtered in the years 1980–1982 - There was no statutory basis for the schemes or for the claims made by the plaintiff - The schemes were devised and operated by the defendant on the basis of the issue of movement permits which authorised the removal of reactor cattle for slaughter - Such permits had been issued to the plaintiff, on his application, in respect of all the slaughtered cattle on which his claim was founded - Each permit which had been issued to the plaintiff referred to specified animals which were to be sent for slaughter and stated the amounts of the grants payable to the plaintiff in respect of those animals - The conditions printed on each permit stated that, subject to condition No. 9, the defendant's department would pay a headage grant in respect of each animal - Condition No. 9 stated that the defendant might, at his discretion, refuse payment in whole or in part in any case where he was satisfied that the owner of the cattle had not complied with the provisions of the Act of 1966 or with movement, identification or other controls under any official scheme for the eradication of animal diseases - The number of the plaintiff's reactor cattle slaughtered in the years 1980–1982 was not in issue but the defendants contended (a) that the terms of condition No. 9 conferred on him a general power to refuse payment of headage grants at his discretion and (b) that the plaintiff had repeatedly failed to comply with the provisions of the Act of 1966 and the said controls and that, therefore, the plaintiff had failed to satisfy the condition precedent contained in condition No. 9 of the permits - Held that the defendant's offers of payments and the plaintiff's acceptances of those offers constituted contracts which were enforceable in accordance with the terms printed on the permits - Held that condition No. 9 did not confer on the defendant a general power to refuse to pay headage grants at his discretion - Held that condition No. 9 was a general notice to persons seeking the benefits of the schemes that grants could be withheld if the provisions of that condition were not satisfied, and did not refer solely to the transaction contemplated by the particular permit - Held that the defendant had established several failures by the plaintiff to comply with the provisions of the Act of 1966 and the said controls and that, accordingly, such failures and the terms of condition No. 9 exempted the defendant from the contractual obligation to pay the sum claimed by the plaintiff - Diseases of Animals Act, 1966 - (1983/2502 P - O'Hanlon J. - 5/10/87) [1989] ILRM 82

|McKerring v. Minister for Agriculture|

MINISTER OF STATE

Powers

Scheme - Grants - Payment - Non-statutory basis - Contractual basis - Minister's discretion - Headage grants payable under tuberculosis and brucellosis schemes for slaughter of reactor cattle - Conditional entitlement to grants - Plaintiff's claim to damages for breach of contract - ~See~ Government, grants - (1983/2502 P - O'Hanlon J. - 5/10/87) [1989] ILRM 82

|McKerring v. Minister for Agriculture|

Citations:

BOVINE TUBERCULOSIS (ATTESTATION OF THE STATE & GENERAL PROVISIONS) ORDER 1978 SI 256/1978

DISEASES OF ANIMALS ACT 1966

1

Judgment of O'Hanlon J., delivered the 5th day of October 1987.

2

The Plaintiff claims that a sum of £19,500 is due to him by the Minister for Agriculture in respect of grants payable for cattle slaughtered under the Tuberculosis and Brucellosis Eradication Schemes in the years 1980, 1981 and 1982, together with a further sum of £2,000 under a Hardship Fund linked with the said Schemes. He also claims that he should be paid interest at Bank Overdraft rates in respect of the period which has elapsed between the time when the Grant moneys would have become payable and the present day.

3

The Minister concedes that cattle the property of the Plaintiff were slaughtered under the said Schemes during the years in question and that, in the ordinary course of events, the Plaintiff would have qualified for payment of the sum of £21,500 as claimed by him, but he claims to be entitled to withhold payment of the full amount on a number of grounds, which can, I think, be briefly summarised under two headings. In the first place it is claimed that payment of any grants under the Schemes in question is made conditional upon the applicant complying with the special terms - nine in all - indorsed upon every Permit authorising the movement of reactors for slaughter, and it is alleged that the Defendant was in breach of these conditions and thereby forfeited any entitlement he might otherwise have to payment of the grants. Secondly, it is contended that payment of the grants was never intended to be a matter of legal obligation, but was and is made on a purely ex gratia basis at the discretion of the Minister, and that he is entitled to withhold payment whenever it seems proper to him to do so.

4

I propose in this judgment to deal with the latter contention first.

5

It is noteworthy that the Permit document authorising the movement of reactors for slaughter, upon which the grant claim has to be based in due course, makes no mention of any statutory basis for the scheme, but is merely headed "Bovine Brucellosis Eradication Scheme" or "Bovine Tuberculosis Eradication Scheme", as appropriate. I was informed by the Departmental witnesses that the Scheme, which dated from 1976, was purely...

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3 cases
  • Rooney v Min for Agriculture and Others
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • July 13, 2004
    ... ... ILRM 435 FRANCOVICH & BONIFACI V ITALY 1991 ECR 5357, 1991 2 CMLR 66 DILLENKOFER V GERMANY 1996 ECR 4845, 1996 3 CMLR 469 DIR 85/337/EEC DIR 78/52/EEC MCKERRING V MIN FOR AGRICULTURE 1989 ILRM 82 ROONEY V MIN AGRICULTURE 2001 2 ILRM 37 Abstract: Agriculture - Cattle - Damages - Whether plaintiff’s cattle unlawfully restricted - Whether defendants trespassed on plaintiff’s property and chattels - Disease of Animals Act 1996 - ... ...
  • Rooney v Minister for Agriculture
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • January 28, 2016
    ...active negotiation, but its legal basis was simply an administrative procedure which as was held in McKerrig v Minister for Agriculture [1989] I.L.R.M. 82 created a private contract between the Department and any affected farmer in an individual case. It is the operation of this non statuto......
  • Rooney v Minister for Agriculture and Food
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • December 19, 1991
    ...mentioned in this report:— Howard v. The Minister for Agriculture and Food [1990] 2 I.R. 260. McKerring v. The Minister for Agriculture [1989] I.L.R.M. 82. Pine Valley Developments v. The Minister for the Environment [1987] I.R. 23. The State (Sheehan) v. The Government of Ireland [1987] I.......

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