O'Neill v McCann Fitzgerald Solicitors and ors

JurisdictionIreland
CourtSupreme Court
JudgeDenham C.J.
Judgment Date13 February 2017
Neutral Citation[2017] IESC 8
Date13 February 2017
Docket NumberAppeal No. 269/2011

[2017] IESC 8

THE SUPREME COURT

Denham C.J.

Denham C.J.

Dunne J.

Charleton J.

Appeal No. 269/2011

BETWEEN/
EDWARD O'NEILL
PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT
AND
MCCANN FITZGERALD SOLICITORS
1ST DEFENDANT/RESPONDENT
And
BRIAN LYNCH & ASSOCIATES SOLICITORS, ORLA CULLINAN SOLICITORS T/A ‘O.M. CULLINAN & CO. SOLICITORS’

AND

TIMOTHY DOYLE
2nd, 3rd and 4th DEFENDANTS

Damages – Nuisance – Striking out – Appellant seeking damages for nuisance, breach of constitutional rights and orders for discovery – Whether there was any error by the High Court in striking out the appellant’s claim

Facts: The plaintiff/appellant, Mr O’Neill, on the 19th January, 2011, instituted High Court proceedings against the defendants/respondents, McCann Fitzgerald Solicitors, Brian Lynch & Associates Solicitors, O.M. Cullinan & Co. Solicitors and Mr Doyle, by way of plenary summons, claiming a range of remedies, including damages for nuisance, breach of constitutional rights and orders for discovery. The plaintiff claimed that: (1) the first defendant engaged in a conspiracy with the other defendants to deny him his entitlement to the monies he claimed; (2) the first defendant engaged a private detective whose activities were threatening the plaintiff and his family; (3) the first defendant co-ordinated efforts with the other defendants to make fraudulent allegations against the plaintiff. The first defendant brought a motion in the High Court to strike out the plaintiff’s claim as against the defendants. On the 25th March, 2011, the High Court (Hedigan J) struck out the plaintiff’s proceedings as against the first defendant. The plaintiff appealed to the Supreme Court from the judgment of the High Court

Held by Denham CJ that, having considered the judgment of the High Court judge, the papers filed on appeal, and the oral submissions, the Court could find no error in respect of the decision of the High Court judge.

Denham CJ held that the appeal should be dismissed.

Appeal dismissed.

Judgment delivered on the 20th day of February, 2017 by Denham C.J.
Background
1

This is an appeal brought by Edward O'Neill, the plaintiff/appellant, and hereinafter referred to as the ‘the plaintiff’, from the judgment of the High Court (Hedigan J.) dated the 25th March, 2011, and order, which was perfected on the 8th June, 2011.

2

McCann Fitzgerald Solicitors, the first named defendant/respondent, referred to individually as ‘the first named defendant’, brought a motion in the High Court to strike out the plaintiff's claim as against them.

3

The High Court struck out the plaintiff's proceedings as against the first named defendant, which is the decision the subject of this appeal.

Proceedings
4

On the 19th January, 2011, the plaintiff instituted High Court proceedings against the defendants by way of plenary summons, claiming a range of remedies, including damages for nuisance, breach of constitutional rights and orders for discovery, and he delivered a statement of claim on the 3rd February, 2011.

5

The plaintiff's claim arose out of a dispute between the plaintiff and Statoil (U.K.) Limited, which is referred to as ‘Statoil’, concerning an allegation by the plaintiff that Statoil authorised the plaintiff to act as its agent in the negotiation of oil supply contracts, and that Statoil is indebted to him in respect of a considerable amount of money.

6

5. The first named defendant was retained by Statoil to acts as its solicitors in this dispute.

7

Acting as solicitors for Statoil, the first named defendant sent to the plaintiff correspondence on behalf of Statoil, which stated that Statoil believed that the plaintiff's claim was entirely without merit.

8

The complaints made by the plaintiff in these proceedings are as to acts of the first named defendant taken when acting as solicitors for Statoil.

9

The nature of the plaintiff's claim is summarised in the judgment of the learned High Court judge at paragraph 2, as follows:-

‘(1) The first defendant engaged in a conspiracy with the other defendants to deny him his entitlement to the monies he claims.

(2) That this defendant engaged a private detective whose activities are threatening him and his family.

(3) He alleges this defendant co-ordinated efforts with the other defendants to make fraudulent allegations against him.’

10

By Notice of Motion dated the 7th March, 2011, the first named defendant brought an application seeking orders, pursuant to the Rules of the Superior Courts and the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court, striking out the plaintiff's claim on the grounds that the allegations raised by the him in his plenary summons and statement of claim...

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