Re a Ward of Court (withholding medical treatment) (No. 1)

Judgment Date01 January 1996
Date01 January 1996
CourtHigh Court
In re a Ward of Court (withholding medical treatment) (No. 1)
In the matter of A Ward of Court (withholding medical treatment) (No. 1)

High Court

Practice and procedure - In camera hearing - Administration of justice in public - Constitutional right to privacy - Discretion - Courts (Supplemental Provisions) Act, 1961 (No. 39), s. 45 - Constitution of Ireland, 1937, Article 34, s. 1.

Article 34, s. 1 of the Constitution of Ireland, 1937, provides:—

"Justice shall be administered in courts established by law by judges appointed in the manner provided by this Constitution, and, save in such special and limited cases as may be prescribed by law, shall be administered in public."

By s. 45, sub-s. 1 (a) of the Courts (Supplemental Provisions) Act, 1961, justice may be administered otherwise than in public in lunacy and minor matters.

The applicant was the committee and mother of a ward of court. She sought directions from the court as to the proper care and treatment of the ward. She further sought that this issue should be heard wholly or partly in public on the grounds that it was a family matter attracting a constitutional right to privacy and that a public hearing might deter her from proceeding and deny her access to the courts. It was further submitted on behalf of the applicant that if the application proceeded in public, evidence would probably be more guarded and less full and frank and thus hinder the administration of justice. The application was supported by the institution caring for the ward.

Counsel on behalf of the Attorney General did not challenge the submissions of the applicant and institution but rather submitted that the Court had to choose from three possible courses: (a) a hearing wholly in public, (b) a hearing of the evidence in camera and the arguments and judgment in public, or (c) a hearing of the evidence and arguments in camera and the judgment in public.

Held by Lynch J., in directing that the substantive application on oral evidence be heard in camera, both as to evidence and submissions and that the judgment be delivered in public in such a way as to preserve the anonymity of the ward, the family, the institution and the witnesses, 1, that the Court was satisfied that a hearing in camera and not in public was reasonably necessary in order to do justice in the circumstances.

In re R. Ltd. [1989] I.R. 126 and The Attorney General v. X[1992] 1 I.R. 1 followed.

2. That if the hearing was in public it would incalculably increase the emotion, distress and concern of the parties to such an extent that, if the application proceeded at all, the likelihood would be that the evidence would be more guarded and less full and frank than if the hearing was in camera.

3. That the interests of justice and the dominant welfare of all the parties concerned required the proceedings to be heard in camera.

The Attorney General v. X [1992] 1 I.R. 1 followed.

Cases mentioned in this report::—

In re R. Ltd. [1989] I.R. 126; [1989] I.L.R.M. 757.

The Attorney General v. X [1992] I.R. 1; [1992] I.L.R.M. 401.

Preliminary issue.

The facts are summarised in the headnote and are fully set out in the judgment of Lynch J., infra.

By notice of motion issued on the 7th March, 1995, the family and...

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9 cases
  • Fleming v Ireland and Others
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • January 10, 2013
    ...DEPT OF HEALTH 1990 110 S CT 2841, 497 US 2841 CARTER v CANADA 2012 BCSC 886 HEANEY v IRELAND 1994 3 IR 593 WARD OF COURT, IN RE (NO.1) 1996 2 IR 73 CONSTITUTION ART 40.1 MCGEE v AG 1974 IR 284 VACCO v QUILL 521 US 793 1997 RODRIGUEZ v CANADA 1993 3 SCR 519 CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS S7 C......
  • B (A) v D (C)
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • December 9, 2013
    ...I should also have regard to the precedent in relation to the decision in In re a Ward of Court (withholding medical treatment) (No. 1) [1996] 2 I.R. 73 where the judgment of both the High Court and Supreme Court were delivered in public because of the importance of the principles involved,......
  • Harriton v Stephens
    • Australia
    • High Court
    • May 9, 2006
    ...[26] and 4011 [46]; see also Airedale NHS Trust v Bland [1993] AC 789 and In re a Ward of Court (withholding medical treatment) (No 1) [1996] 2 IR 73. 428 See, for example, the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth); the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW); the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998......
  • Commissioners of Irish Lights v Maxwell
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    • Supreme Court
    • January 1, 1998
    ...Banking Corporation[1990] I.L.R.M. 341. Smyth v. Tunney [1993] 1 I.R. 451. In re a Ward of Court (withholding medical treatment) (No. 1) [1996] 2 I.R. 73. Appeal from the High Court. The facts have been summarised in the headnote and are fully set out in the judgment of Keane J., infra. The......
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1 books & journal articles
  • Should Ireland prohibit the contemporaneous media reporting of juvenile trials?
    • Ireland
    • Irish Judicial Studies Journal No. 1-21, January 2021
    • January 1, 2021
    ...‘Open Justice? The Practical Operation of Article 34.1 of the Constitution —Part I’ (2003) 21(21) Irish Law Times, 303-308, 307. 149 [1996] 2 I.R. 73. 150 Court (Supplemental Provisions) Act 1961. 151 [1992] 1 I.R. 1. 152 In Re A Ward of Court (withholding medical treatment) (No.1) [1996] 2......

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