Rm v Shc

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeMs. Justice Eileen Roberts
Judgment Date15 May 2023
Neutral Citation[2023] IEHC 252
CourtHigh Court
Between
RM
Plaintiff
and
SHC
Defendant

[2023] IEHC 252

THE HIGH COURT

Ex tempore JUDGMENT of Ms. Justice Eileen Roberts delivered on 15 May 2023

1

. On 4 May 2023 the plaintiff issued proceedings against the defendant seeking various injunctive and declaratory reliefs and damages regarding the termination or purported termination of the plaintiff's employment with the defendant. A motion seeking interlocutory relief issued by the plaintiff on 5 May 2023 and is awaiting hearing.

2

. On 10 May 2023 the present application came before this court. It is the defendant's motion seeking an order pursuant to section 27 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008 (the “ 2008 Act”)

prohibiting the publication or broadcast of any matter relating to this application and the proceedings within, which would or would be likely to identify the defendant or any medical condition from which she is suffering or any information relating to the identification, gender, occupation, profession, practice and/or place of work or location within the State of the Defendant”.

3

. While applications under section 27 of the 2008 Act are often made, the parties were unable to refer to any previous reported case on all fours with the present application. This arises from the fact that, unusually, this application is brought on behalf of the defendant to the proceedings and not on behalf of the plaintiff. There is no doubt that the defendant as “ a party to the proceedings” is entitled to make an application under section 27. Section 27(6)(a) confirms that an application “ may only be made by a party to the proceedings on notice to the other party or parties to the proceedings”. Section 27(10) provides that a “ relevant person” means a party to the proceedings or a person called or proposed to be called to give evidence in the proceedings. Section 27(2) provides that an application for an order may be made at any stage of the proceedings. The defendant is therefore entitled to make this application now and is a relevant person for the purposes of section 27.

Section 27 of the 2008 Act
4

. Section 27 of the 2008 Act deals generally with anonymity in civil proceedings in relation to the medical condition of a relevant person. The key provisions provide as follows: –

“( 1) Where in any civil proceedings (including such proceedings on appeal) a relevant person has a medical condition, an application may be made to the court in which the proceedings have been brought by any party to the proceedings for an order under this section prohibiting the publication or broadcast of any matter relating to the proceedings which would, or would be likely to, identify the relevant person as a person having that condition…

(3) The court shall grant an order under this section only if it is satisfied that—

  • (a) the relevant person concerned has a medical condition,

  • (b) his or her identification as a person with that condition would be likely to cause undue stress to him or her, and

  • (c) the order would not be prejudicial to the interests of justice.”

5

. This is the basis of the court's jurisdiction, and I will consider it against the evidence available to the court on this application.

The evidence on this application.
6

. The application is grounded on an affidavit sworn by the defendant in person. The defendant avers that the plaintiff claims their employment with the defendant was allegedly unlawfully terminated on 6 April 2023. It is the defendant's position that the plaintiff's termination arose solely and entirely due to the plaintiff's conduct and behaviour in June 2022 in attending unannounced and uninvited at the defendant's home and then handing over a 28-page document, which had been prepared by the plaintiff, alleging egregious personal and professional failings on the part of the defendant.

7

. The defendant exhibits to her affidavit a psychiatric report prepared by Dr Richard Blennerhassett, consultant psychiatrist. In his report Dr Blennerhassett sets out in some detail the defendant's medical history and the impact the document in question had on the defendant. His impression at the time was that the defendant had developed an acute generalised anxiety disorder in response to the work situation and was experiencing clinical significant impairment in day-to-day life. The report confirmed Dr Blennerhassett's opinion that, having been served with High Court proceedings, the defendant's anxiety has escalated and that the defendant is particularly stressed by the prospect of being identified as suffering from a psychiatric disorder. The report confirms that the defendant continues to suffer from a medical condition in the form of a generalised anxiety disorder for which the defendant remains under treatment. Dr Blennerhassett states that he would support an application under section 27 of the 2008 Act as the defendant suffers from a medical condition in the form of a Generalised Anxiety Disorder and secondly her identification as a person with that condition would be likely to cause undue stress to (the defendant). He concludes by noting that the defendant requires continued treatment and that Dr Blennerhassett is concerned that the identification of the defendant in these proceedings is likely to cause a significant deterioration in the defendant's condition.

8

. The defendant's grounding affidavit avers that it is more likely than not that there would be very significant publicity surrounding the plaintiff's proceedings and interlocutory application before this court. The defendant says that the publication of these matters would cause the defendant very significant distress and is likely to very significantly exacerbate the defendant's medical condition.

9

. The other evidence available to the court on this application was the correspondence issued by the plaintiff to the defendant which is said to be the document central to the defendant's decision to terminate the plaintiff's employment. This document is exhibited to the plaintiff's grounding affidavit. While there are some minor redactions made to the exhibited copy, nothing turns on those redactions from the perspective of this application.

10

. As this exhibit is likely to be considered in some detail by the judge dealing with the interlocutory application and indeed the substantive hearing, I do not wish to comment on it any more than is necessary for the purposes of the present application. The plaintiff avers in their grounding affidavit at para 16 “[A]lthough this letter was harsh and to the point and contained some very personal and private information, I felt it was constructive”. There is no doubt that the letter contains information that is personal and private to the defendant. Of particular relevance to the present application, the letter contains references to medication that the defendant was taking and to “ iss...

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1 cases
  • Rm v Shc
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 19 July 2023
    ...Provisions) Act 2008 anonymising the identity of the Defendant in any publication or broadcast relating to the proceedings ( [2023] IEHC 252). As stated by Roberts J, a necessary consequence of that order, “ is that the Plaintiff's identity should also be anonymised as well as the respectiv......

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