Ronayne v Ronayne

JurisdictionIreland
CourtSupreme Court
Judgment Date16 July 1970
Docket Number[1969. No. 168 P.]
Date16 July 1970
Supreme Court
[1969. No. 168 P.]
Ronayne v. Ronayne
WINIFRED RONAYNE, an Infant, suing by her aunt and next friend, Mary Tarpey
Plaintiff
and
JAMES RONAYNE and PATRICK J. GREANEY
Defendants.

Practice - Action - Transfer - Claim for unliquidated damages brought in High Court - Application by defendant for transfer of action to Circuit Court - Test to be applied - Rules of the Superior Courts, 1962 (No. 72 of 1962),Or. 49, r. 7 - Courts of Justice Act, 1924 (No. 10 of 1924), ss. 25, 26 - Courts of Justice Act, 1936 (No. 48 of 1936), ss. 11, 20 - Courts of Justice Act, 1953 (No. 32 of 1953), s. 19.

Appeal from the High Court.

On the 9th October, 1966, a motor car belonging to the plaintiff's father, the first defendant, was being driven by the plaintiff's mother when it collided with a motor car which was owned and driven by the second defendant. At the time of the accident the plaintiff was a passenger in her father's car and she suffered personal injuries as a result of the collision. The plaintiff issued and served a plenary summons in the High Court in which she claimed damages for the negligence of the defendants or one of them. The plaintiff delivered her statement of claim on the 13th February, 1969.

By notice of motion dated the 21st October, 1969, the defendants applied to the High Court pursuant to Order 49, r. 7, of the Rules of the Superior Courts, 1962, for an order directing that "this action be remitted to the Circuit Court on the grounds that such damages (if any) as might be awarded to the plaintiff could not reasonably exceed the sum of £600 and that it was not reasonable that such action should have been commenced in the High Court."The application of the defendants was heard and determined by the High Court (Murnaghan J.) on the 10th November, 1969, when it was ordered that the action should be further prosecuted before the judge assigned to the Western Circuit of the Circuit Court at the next sittings to be held at Castlebar in the County of Mayo. By notice of appeal dated the 24th November, 1969, the plaintiff appealed to the Supreme Court from the order of the High Court made on the 10th November, 1969. On the 27th February, 1970, Murnaghan J. furnished a report of his reasons for making the order of the 10th November, 1969, from which it appeared that he had taken the view that a sum of £500 would be a good award to the plaintiff for her general damages.

Section 48 of the Courts of Justice Act, 1924, gave the former Circuit Court jurisdiction in cases of tort, other than matrimonial actions and actions for criminal conversation, where the claim did not exceed the sum of £300; and that figure was increased by s. 19 of the Courts of Justice Act, 1953, to £600. The present Circuit Court has jurisdiction in cases of tort where the amount of the claim does not exceed £600: see s. 22 of the Courts (Supplemental Provisions) Act, 1961.

Section 25 of the Act of 1924 provides as follows:—

"25. Where any action shall be pending in the High Court which might have been commenced in the Circuit Court, any party to such action may, at any time before service of notice of trial therein, apply to the High Court that the action be remitted or transferred to the Circuit Court, and thereupon, in case the court shall consider that the action is fit to be prosecuted in the High Court, it may retain such action therein, or if it shall not consider the action fit to be prosecuted in the High Court it may remit or transfer such action to the Circuit Court or (where the action might have been commenced in the District Court) the District Court, to be prosecuted before the Judge assigned to such Circuit or (as the case may require) the Justice assigned to such District, as may appear to the High Court suitable and convenient, upon such terms, in either case and subject to such conditions, as to costs or otherwise as may appear to be just: Provided that the High Court shall have jurisdiction to remit or transfer any action, whatever may be the amount of the claim formally made therein, if the court shall be of opinion that the action should not have been commenced in the High Court but in the Circuit Court or in the District Court if at all."

Section 11, sub-s. 2, of the Courts of Justice Act, 1936, provides as follows:—

"(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in section 25 of the Principal Act the following provisions shall have effect in relation to the remittal or transfer of actions under that, section, that is to say:—

(a) an action shall not be remitted or transferred under the said section if the High Court is satisfied that, having regard to all the circumstances, and notwithstanding that such action could have been commenced in the Circuit Court, it was reasonable that such action should have been commenced in the High Court;

(b) an action for the recovery of a liquidated sum shall not be remitted or transferred under the said section unless the plaintiff consents thereto or the defendant either satisfies the High Court that he has a good defence to such action or some part thereof or discloses facts which, in the opinion of the High Court, are sufficient to entitle him to defend such action."

Section 20 of the Act of 1936, as amended by s. 19 of the Act of 1953, provides as follows:—

"20. Where an action claiming unliquidated damages is remitted or transferred by the High Court to the Circuit Court, the Circuit Court shall have jurisdiction to award damages in excess of six hundred pounds."

The provisions of s. 25 of the Act of 1924 and of s. 11, sub-s. 2, and s. 20 of the Act of 1936 apply to the present High Court and Circuit Court: see ss. 8, 22, and 48 of the Courts (Supplemental Provisions) Act, 1961.

An action in the High Court in which the plaintiff claims unliquidated damages should not be transferred to the Circuit Court unless the circumstances are such that there are reasonable grounds for assuming that an award by a jury to the plaintiff of damages greater than the jurisdictional limit of the Circuit Court would be set aside on appeal as being an excessive award.

So held by the Supreme Court ( Ó Dálaigh ó dálaigh C.J., Walsh, Budd and FitzGerald JJ.; McLoughlin J. dissenting).

Connor v. O'BrienIR [1925] 2 I.R. 24 applied.

Cur. adv. vult.

Ó Dálaigh C.J. ó dálaigh :—

This appeal is taken on behalf of the infant plaintiff, Winifred Ronayne, against an order of Mr. Justice Murnaghan dated the 10th November, 1969, directing that the infant plaintiff's action in the High Court be transferred to the Circuit Court to be further prosecuted before the judge assigned to the Western Circuit. Mr. Justice Murnaghan's order was made on foot of a motion to remit brought on behalf of the...

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2 cases
  • McDonald v Galvin
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 1 January 1977
    ...if this right is exercised, he has a right to a jury and cannot be deprived of it. I was also referred to the case of Ronayne.v. Ronayne (1970) I.R. 15. 5 The submissions raise the issue of the right of any party to have a civil action tried with a jury. I have not been given any indication......
  • Maycock v Legg Bros Ltd
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 10 March 1972
    ...of the decision of the further ???query?????? Court in (1925) I.R. p. 24, which was confirmed recently in this Court in Renayne v. (1970) I.R. p. 15. The test is whether a verdict for over £600 would be set aside on appeal as excessive. In considering whether an award of damages is excessiv......

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