O Murchu (respondent/ applicant) v an Taoiseach (appellant/ respondents)

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeMacken J.
Judgment Date06 May 2010
Neutral Citation[2010] IESC 26
CourtSupreme Court
Docket Number[S.C. No. 91 of 2005],(C.U. Uimh. 91 de 2005)
Date06 May 2010
Ó Murchú v Taoiseach & Ors
BETWEEN/
IDIR/
P ÓL Ó MURCHú
Respondent/Applicant
-agus-
-and-
Achomharcóirí/Freagróirí
THE TAOISEACH, THE TÁNAISTE AND MINISTER FOR ENTERPRISE, TRADE AND EMPLOYMENT, THE MINISTER FOR THE MARINE AND NATURAL RESOURCES, THE MINISTER FOR PUBLIC ENTERPRISE, THE MINISTER FOR DEFENCE, THE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, THE MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FOOD AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT, THE MINISTER FOR FINANCE, THE MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND CHILDREN, THE MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT, THE MINISTER FOR SOCIAL, COMMUNITY AND FAMILY AFFAIRS, THE MINISTER FOR ARTS, HERITAGE, GAELTACHT AND THE ISLANDS, THE MINISTER FOR JUSTICE, EQUALITY AND LAW REFORM, THE MINISTER FOR TOURISM, SPORT AND RECREATION, THE MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND SCIENCE, IRELAND AND THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
AN TAOISEACH, AN TANÁISTE AGUS AN tAIRE FIONTAR, TRÁDÁLA AGUS FOSTAÍOCHTA, AIRE NA MARA AGUS ACMHAINNÍ NAD ÚRTHA, AN tAIRE FIONTAIR PHOIBLÍ, AN tAIRE COSANTA, AN tAIRE GN ÓTHAÍ EACHTRACHA, AN tAIRE TALMHAÍOCHTA, BIA AGUS FORBARTHA TUAITHE, AN tAIRE AIRGEADAIS, AN tAIRE SLÁINTE AGUS LEANAÍ, AN tAIRE COMHSHAOIL AGUS RIALTAIS ÁITI ÚIL, AN tAIRE GN ÓTHAÍ S ÓISIALTA, POBAIL AGUS TEAGHLAIGH, AN tAIRE EALAÍON, OIDHREACHTA, GAELTACHTA AGUS OILEÁN, AN tAIRE DLÍ, CIRT, COMHIONANNAIS AGUS ATHCH ÓIRITHE DLÍ, AN tAIRE TURAS ÓIREACHTA, SP ÓIRT AGUS ÁINEASA, AN tAIRE OIDEACHAIS AGUS EOLAÍOCHTA, ÉIRE AGUS AN tARD-AIGHNE
Appellants/Respondents

[2010] IESC 26

Murray, C.J.

Kearns, P.

Hardiman, J.

Fennelly, J.

Macken, J.

Murray, An Príomh-Bhreitheamh

Kearns, Uachtarán

Hardiman, Brmh.

Fennelly, Brmh.

Macken, Brmh.

[S.C. No. 91 of 2005]

THE SUPREME COURT

AN CH ÚIRT UACHTARACH

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

Official language

National language - Unavailability of Acts, statutory instruments and rules of court in national language - Whether constitutional obligation to make Acts, statutory instruments and rules of court available in national language for those wishing to conduct legal matters in court in national language - Ó Beoláin v Fahy [2001] 2 IR 279 applied; Attorney General v Coyne and Wallace (1967) 101 ILTR 17 and Delap v Minister for Justice (1996) TÉ 116 considered - Constitution of Ireland 1937, Articles 8 and 25.4 - Defendants' appeal allowed (2005/92 - SC - 6/5/2010) [2010] IESC 26

Ó Murchú v An Taoiseach

Facts: The respondent Solicitor has sought inter alia a declaration by way of judicial review that the appellants had a constitutional duty to issue and provide to the public and the respondent with an official translation in Irish of inter alia all Rules of Court including amendments, appendices and indices and that the versions be translated and issued simultaneously. The issue arose as to the construction of Article 25 of the Constitution read along with Article 8, as well as the decision of the Supreme Court in O ' Beolain v. Fahy [2001] 2 IR 279.

Held by Macken J. (Murray CJ, Kearns P, Hardiman, Fennelly JJ. concurring), that the findings of the trial judge were based on O'Beolain v. Fahy, as well as Article 25 and 8 of the Constitution. There was no constitutional obligation on the appellants to provide simultaneous or other translations of all Statutory Instruments to the general public, individual respondent. An individual might be entitled to claim that the absence of a particular Statutory Instrument or of even more than one, in Irish, could constitute an inhibition or an impediment on such an individual seeking to vindicate his right to use the first official language in court proceedings. The same position applied to Rules of Court. There was no simultaneous obligation to make available Rules of Court simultaneously with the making or publication of the Rules of Court in English. The respondent was disadvantaged as a practitioner from the failure to provide the Rules. As such, the Rules had to be provided within a reasonable period of time. An Order would be made setting aside the judgment and Orders of the High Court and a declaration granted that there was a constitutional obligation to provide to the respondent in his capacity as a solicitor all Rules of Court, including amendments, forms and indices thereto, in an Irish language version of the same, as soon as practicable after they were published.

Reporter: E.F.

Note: This judgment was delivered in Gaeilge

CONSTITUTION ART 25.4

CRIMINAL JUSTICE (MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS) ACT 1997

BAIL ACT 1997

CONSTITUTION ART 25.4.4

CONSTITUTION ART 25

CONSTITUTION ART 8

CONSTITUTION ART 40

STATUTE LAW (RESTATEMENT) ACT 2002

HOUSES OF THE OIREACHTAS COMMISSION ACT 2003

D (T)(A MINOR) & ORS v MIN FOR EDUCATION & ORS 2001 4 IR 259 2001/5/1050

OFFICIAL LANGUAGES ACT 2003 S7

O BEOLAIN v JUDGE FAHY & ORS 2001 2 IR 279 2001/18/4947

RSC O.58 r8

CONSTITUTION ART 25.4.1

CONSTITUTION ART 25.4.5

CONSTITUTION ART 8.3

CONSTITUTION ART 8.1

CONSTITUTION ART 8.2

AG v COYNE & WALLACE 1967 101 ILTR 17

DELAP v MIN FOR JUSTICE & AG 1980-1998 IR (SR) 46 1980-1998 IR (SR) 116 1990/6/1613

ROAD TRAFFIC ACT 1994

ROAD TRAFFIC ACT 1961

ROAD TRAFFIC ACT 1995

DISTRICT COURT RULES 1997 SI 93/1997

O FOGHLUDHA & ORS v MCCLEAN 1934 IR 469

O MURCHU v REGISTRAR OF COMPANIES & MIN FOR INDUSTRY 1980-1998 IR (SR) 42 1980-1998 IR (SR) 112

CONSTITUTION ART 34

1

Judgment delivered on the 6th day of May, 2010 by Macken J.

2

Macken [nem diss]

3

By Order made as long ago as October 2000, the High Court (O'Neill, J.) granted liberty to the respondent, as applicant, to commence judicial review proceedings in respect of several reliefs, which can be summarised as follows:

4

1. A declaration that the appellants have, together, a constitutional duty to issue and provide to the general public, including the applicant, an official version or an official translation in the first official language of all Acts of the Oireachtas, of all Statutory Instruments and of all Rules of Court, including (in the case of Rules of Court) all amendments, appendices and indices;

5

2. A declaration that the appellants have a constitutional obligation to issue and make available to the general public, including the applicant, an official version or an official translation in the first official language of all the foregoing Acts of the Oireachtas, Statutory Instruments and Rules of Court on terms no less advantageous than the terms under which the second official English language version or translations are issued and made available, including that both versions or translations be issued and made available simultaneously.

6

3. An Order of Mandamus directing the appellants to issue and provide the aforesaid Acts for the period between 1981 and 2000 where none is yet available, without further delay.

7

4. An Order of Mandamus directing that Rules of Court not yet issued in the first official language or in a translation thereof, be made available by the appellants without further delay.

8

5. An Order of Mandamus directing the appellants, for the future, to issue and provide an official version in the first official language or an official translation thereof of all Acts of the Oireachtas and Statutory Instruments, including Rules of Court, as described above, on terms which are no less advantageous than the terms under which the official English version or the official English translation is issued and provided, or that the same be made available simultaneously therewith.

9

The above Order was made pursuant to application based on a Statement to ground the Notice of Application in turn grounded on an affidavit sworn by the applicant on the 31 st July, 2000.

10

By a Statement of Opposition, dated the 22nd January, 2001, the appellants pleaded that any obligation placed on the then first respondent, the Clerk of the Dail, in relation to the provision in Irish of the legislation in question was part of the internal responsibility of the Oireachtas, in respect of which that party was not responsible to the applicant in any way. He was removed as a party to the proceedings on the first day of the oral hearing of the matter before the High Court in 2001, and is not a party to this appeal.

11

Further the appellants, as respondents to the applicant, pleaded the following in opposition to the application:

12

1. The obligation arising under Article 25.4 of the Constitution is a State obligation, which falls on the Government to fulfil under the State's executive power;

13

2. None of the respondents failed to issue or provide an official version or an official translation of the Acts in question;

14

3. Appropriate arrangements have been put in place by the Government to provide an official translation of all Acts of the Oireachtas from the English language version into Irish, such arrangements being comprehensive and ordered prior to the issuing of the application for judicial review;

15

4. There is no constitutional obligation to provide official translations of Acts of the Oireachtas simultaneously;

16

5. There is no constitutional obligation to translate each Statutory Instrument issued in one official language into the other official language. If such an obligation exists, a reasonable period would have to be given to fulfil this obligation. Only the Government has the discretion to measure the rationality of that period, but any such obligation will be fulfilled;

17

6. The Government accepts the need to provide an Irish version of all Court Rules in addition to an English version, and since both versions are not currently available every effort shall be made, from then on, to resolve the deficiency as soon as possible.

18

Apart from further denials of the pleas, the appellants did not accept the correctness or accuracy of the facts averred to in the...

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