Minister for Justice, D.B. v

JurisdictionIreland
CourtHigh Court
Judgment Date01 January 1999
Date01 January 1999
Docket Number[1995 No. 93

High Court

[1995 No. 93 J.R.]
D.B. v. Minister for Justice
D.B. (A minor suing by his mother and next friend S.B.)
Applicant
and
The Minister for Justice, The Minister for Health, The Minister for Education, Ireland and The Attorney General and The Eastern Health Board
Respondents

Cases mentioned in this report:-

Crotty v. An Taoiseach [1987] I.R. 713; [1987] I.L.R.M. 400.

D.G. v. Eastern Health Board [1997] 3 I.R. 511; [1998] 1 I.L.R.M. 241.

F.N. v. Minister of Education [1995] I.R. 409; [1995] 2 I.L.R.M. 297.

District Judge McMenamin v. Ireland [1996] 3 I.R. 100; [1997] 2 I.L.R.M. 177.

The State (Quinn) v. Ryan [1965] I.R. 70; (1964) 100 I.L.T.R. 105.

Constitution - Personal Rights - Child - Function of court in defending and vindicating personal rights of citizen - Constitutional duty on State to provide child with appropriate treatment in secure accommodation as soon as reasonably practicable - Delay in fulfilling obligation - Whether court had any power necessary to defend and vindicate personal rights of citizen - Constitution of Ireland, 1937, Article 40.3.1.

Constitution - Separation of powers - Government - Administrative function - Policy - Function of court in vindicating personal rights of citizen - Constitutional duty of State to provide suitable arrangements of containment with treatment for applicant - Delay in fulfilling obligation - Whether jurisdiction to interfere with administrative branch of government in course of constitutional duties to secure, vindicate and enforce personal rights of citizen - Whether court interfering with administrative branch of government in ensuring that policy previously stated carried into effect.

Motion on notice.

The facts have been summarised in the headnote and are set out in the judgment of Kelly J., infra.

On the 27th March, 1995, the High Court (Lavan J.) granted leave to the applicant to apply for relief by way of judicial review. In the statement grounding the application, the applicant sought, inter alia:-

  • (i) an order of mandamus directing the first five respondents to immediately provide a secure therapeutic unit, which could cater for the behavioural, educational, emotional and structural needs of the applicant;

  • (ii) a mandatory injunction directing the sixth respondent to immediately provide a secure therapeutic unit which could cater for the needs of the applicant.

A statement of opposition was filed by the respondents on the 18th May, 1995. On the 22nd June, 1995, the High Court (Costello P.) made orders relating to the custody, care and control of the applicant by the sixth respondent. Similar orders were made on the 12th July, 1995, by the High Court (Geoghegan J.); on the 17th July, 1995 by the High Court (Costello P.); on the 8th October, 1995 by the High Court (Kelly J.); on the 21st July, 1997, by the High Court (Smyth J.) and on the 27th April, 1998, by the High Court (Kelly J.).

On the 8th July, 1998, the applicant filed a notice of motion seeking, inter alia:-

  • (i) an order directing the second, third and fourth respondents to make available to the sixth respondent sufficient funding to allow the sixth respondent to build, open and maintain a secure 24 bed, high support unit at Portrane in Dublin;

  • (ii) an order directing the second, third and fourth respondents to take all steps necessary to facilitate the building, opening and maintenance of the unit;

  • (iii) an order directing the second, third and fourth respondents to take such steps as to the Court might seem fit and proper to ensure that there was adequate secure high support accommodation available for the applicant and for others with similar needs.

The motion was heard by the High Court (Kelly J.) on the 16th, 17th and 21st July, 1998.

Article 40.3.1 of the Constitution provides:-

"The State guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate the personal rights of the citizen."

The applicant, D.B., required to be cared for the Eastern Health Board in a secure environment, from which he could not escape. In June, 1995, the High Court made orders giving directions as to his custody, care and control by the Eastern Health Board. There was a difficulty in securing accommodation in high support units for the applicant and a number of other minors whose circumstances were similar to those of the applicant. In March, 1995, the High Court held that the State was under a constitutional obligation to establish suitable arrangements of containment with treatment, as soon as reasonably practicable. The High Court was apprised of developments proposed by the Minister for Health and the Minister for Education concerning the provision of residential places for both young offenders and children in need. In the course of a later application heard by the High Court (Kelly J.) in April, 1997, it appeared that the proposals outlined to the Court two years earlier had been departed from without the Court being made aware of that fact. Evidence was now given that facilities would not be available until 2001.

The applicant sought a mandatory injunction directing the building of a secure unit. The respondents submitted that there was no deliberate attempt on the Minister's part to frustrate the rights of the applicant. The respondents contended that in these circumstances, an order of the type sought by the applicant ought not to be made insofar as it would involve the court becoming involved in matters of policy.

Held by the High Court (Kelly J.), in granting the relief sought, 1, that in carrying out its constitutional function of defending and vindicating personal rights, the Court must have available to it any power necessary to do so in an effective way. Otherwise, the Court could not carry out the obligation imposed on it to vindicate and defend such rights.

2. That the fact that the principal respondent in the instant case was the Minister for Health did not mean that he was immune from orders of the Court in excess of mere declarations, if such orders were required to vindicate the personal rights of a citizen. The Court had jurisdiction to interfere with the administrative branch of government to make orders of the type sought by the applicant and was entitled to interfere in the policy of the administrative branch of government if such intervention was required in order for the Court to carry out its duties under the Constitution in securing, vindicating, and enforcing constitutional rights.

Crotty v. An Taoiseach [1987] I.R. 713 applied.

3. That such orders were not made lightly, because the Irish system of government was based on a separation of powers between legislature, executive and judiciary. It was to be expected that each of these branches of government should demonstrate a respect for each other and their respective functions.

District Judge McMenamin v. Ireland [1996] 3 I.R. 100approved.

4. That the obligations of the State towards minors such as the applicant had been declared well over three years before and were to be honoured as soon as reasonably practicable.

5. That in deciding whether to grant the relief sought by the applicant, the following factors must be taken into account:- (1) The High Court had already granted declaratory relief concerning the obligations of the State towards minors such as the applicant. In so doing, the Court had observed the constitutional proprieties owed by the Court to the administrative branch of government. The Court had gone no further than making a declaration, thereby affording an opportunity to the Minister to take the necessary steps to put matters right. The Court had expected those steps to be taken as soon as reasonably practicable; (2) If the declaration was to be of any benefit to the minors in whose favour it was made, the necessary steps consequent upon it had to be taken expeditiously. Otherwise the minors would have achieved their majority within a few years of the declarations being granted without any benefit being gained from them. The effect of a failure to provide the appropriate facilities must have had a profound effect on the lives of these minors and certainly put them at risk of harm up to and including the loss of their lives; (3) Due regard should be had to the efforts made on the part of the Minister to address the difficulties to date. If the Court were to take the view that all reasonable efforts had been made to deal efficiently and effectively with the problem and that the Minister's response was proportionate to the rights which fell to be protected, then normally no order of the type sought by the applicant ought to be made.

6. That the response on the part of the Minister was not proportionate, efficient, timeous or effective. The Minister's response fell far short of what the Court was reasonably entitled to expect concerning the provision of appropriate facilities for young people with difficulties of the type before the Court.

7. That in view of the history of the litigation to date, and in the absence of an undertaking by the Minister that the proposed facilities would be completed and put into operation by the time specified by his officials, the Court must grant an injunction as the next step required of it under the Constitution...

To continue reading

Request your trial
5 cases
  • T.D. and Others v Minister for Education
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 25 February 2000
    ...27.7.1999 1999/6/1418 N (F) V MIN FOR EDUCATION 1995 1 IR 409 G (D) V EASTERN HEALTH BOARD 1997 3 IR 511 B (D) V MIN FOR EDUCATION 1999 1 IR 29 BULA LTD V TARA MINES 1987 IR 95 CHILDRENS ACT 1908 S54(8) DUGGAN V AN TAOISEACH 1989 ILRM 710 CAHILL V SUTTON 1980 IR 269 CONSTITUTION ART 6......
  • Simpson v Governor of Mountjoy Prison
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 13 September 2017
    ...is, however, not in dispute that the orders made by the trial judge in this case and in the earlier case of D.B. v. Minister for Justice [1999] 1 I.R. 29 are without precedent in that they not merely find the Executive to have been in breach of their constitutional duties: they also require......
  • Health Services Executive v Judge White & Others (notice parties)
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 22 May 2009
    ... [2001] 4 IR 259, FN v Minister for Education [1995] 1 IR 409, DG v Eastern Health Board [1997] 3 IR 511, DB v Minister for Justice [1999] 1 IR 29, Crotty v An Taoiseach [1987] IR 713, McKenna v An Taoiseach (No 2) [1995] 2 IR 10, McMenamin v Ireland [1996] 3 IR 100, DPP v O'Shea [1982]......
  • T.D. and Others v Minister for Education
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 17 December 2001
    ...in the sense of being rights conferred or recognised by the Constitution. Citations: CHILDREN ACT 1908 S58(4) B (D) V MIN FOR JUSTICE 1999 1 IR 29 M (F) V MIN FOR EDUCATION 1995 1 IR 409 O'CONNOR THE IRISH JUSTICE OF THE PEACE VOL 2 162 CONSTITUTION ART 40.3 CONSTITUTION ART 42 CHILDREN A......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 firm's commentaries
  • Limited Resources And Statutory Obligations - What Happens When They Conflict?
    • Ireland
    • Mondaq Ireland
    • 21 March 2012
    ...329. 2 [1995] 1 IR 409. 3 [1997] 1 ILRM 390 4 [1999] 4 IR 99. 5 [1996] 2 IR 296. 6 [2006] 4 IR 204. 7 [2001] 2 IR 505, [2001] 2 IR 545. 8 [1999] 1 IR 29. 9 [2000] 3 IR 10 [2001] 4 IR 259. 11 [2010] IEHC 269. 12 [2010] 4 IR 403. The content of this article is intended to provide a general gu......
2 books & journal articles
  • TD v Minister for Education: Hard Case, Bad Law
    • Ireland
    • Irish Judicial Studies Journal Nbr. 3-22, December 2022
    • 1 December 2022
    ...J at [44] as the right ‘ of troubled minors who require placement of the type envisaged’ in FN v Minister for Justice [1995] 1 IR 409. [1999] 1 IR 29, 44. 6 Caoimhe Stafford, ‘The Case for a Judicially Enforceable Right to Housing’ (2017) 16 Hibernian Law Journal 42, 49. 7 Gerry Whyte, ‘The......
  • The Case for a Judicially Enforceable Right to Housing
    • Ireland
    • Hibernian Law Journal Nbr. 16-2017, January 2017
    • 1 January 2017
    ...40 See: O’Donoghue v Minister for Education [1993] I.E.H.C. 2; FN v Minister for Education [1995] 1 I.R. 409; DB v Minister for Justice [1999] 1 I.R. 29 41 TD v Minister of Education [2001] 4 I.R. 259 [hereinater TD] 42 Sinnott v Minister for Education [2001] 2 I.R. 545 43 Hogan, supra note......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT