RE Clifford and O'Sullivan

CourtHouse of Lords (Ireland)
Judgment Date01 January 1921
Date01 January 1921
H. of L.,
Re Clifford and O'Sullivan

Proclaimed district - Possession of arms - Military "Court" -Jurisdiction - Death sentence subject to confirmation - Prohibition - Writ refused - Appeal - Competency - Criminal cause or matter -Judicature (Ireland) Act, 1877 (40 41 Vict., c. 57), s. 50.

By proclamation issued on December 10, 1920, the Lord Lieutenant, after reciting that acts of violence and murders with intent to subvert the supremacy of the Crown in Ireland had been committed, proclaimed that the County of Cork should be subject to martial law, and by a proclamation of the Commander-in-Chief issued on December 12, 1920, the respondent, Major-General S.,was thereby appointed governor for the administration of martial law in Cork County, the proclamation stating that a state of armed insurrection existed, ordering the surrender of arms and ammunition by December 27, 1920, and stating (par. b) that any unauthorised person found in possession of arms or ammunition after that date would be liable on conviction by a Military Court to suffer death. The offence of carrying arms or ammunition had been by the Restoration of Order in Ireland Regulations as from September 28, 1918, made an offence punishable with penal servitude for life. The appellants, C. and O'S., when arrested on April 23, 1921, were found in possession of arms and ammunition, and were charged before officers sitting aa a Military Court under the proclamation of December 12, 1920. After a hearing at which evidence was given upon oath, the appellants were sentenced to death, the "sentence" being subject to confirmation by the Commander-in-Chief. On the ground that the Military Court was illegal and had acted without jurisdiction in trying the appellants, C. and O'S., applied to the Judge in the Chancery Division for a writ of prohibition, the issue of which was, however, refused by Powell, J., and on appeal the Court of Appeal held they had no jurisdiction, this being a criminal cause or matter. On appeal from the decision of the Court of Appeal:—Held, by the majority of their Lordships, disagreeing with the decision of...

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