Sheehan v Amond

JurisdictionIreland
CourtSupreme Court
JudgeHenchy J.
Judgment Date17 December 1982
Neutral Citation1982 WJSC-SC 3213
Docket Number[S.C. No. 136 of 1982]
SHEEHAN v. AMOND
CHRISTOPHER SHEEHAN
v.
PATRICK AMOND

1982 WJSC-SC 3213

Henchy J.

Griffin J.

Hederman J.

No. 347P. 1969

THE SUPREME COURT

1

Judgment of Henchy J.delivered the 17th December 1982

2

The plaintiff reached the age of 21 in 1977. That means that he is now 26 yrs old. When he was a lad of 10, he met with a road accident in May 1966. A collision took place between the defendant's motor car and a bicycle on which the plaintiff was being carried. The plaintiff was badly injured. The blame for the accident was obviously being put on the defendant rather than on the cyclist, for it was the defendant alone who was sued.

3

As the plaintiff's next friend, the plaintiff's father got a solicitor to issue a plenary summons in the High Court against the defendant in February 1969. That was just within the three-year limitation period. No explanation hasbeen given for that delay. It is a statutorily permitted delay, but, as has been pointed out in some of the cases, when the period of limitation for instituting proceedings has been all but allowed to expire, the plaintiff's solicitor should thereafter be astute to see that he will not be dilatory in regard to any of the further procedural steps that are necessary to avoid the taint of prejudicial delay.

4

When I refer to the plaintiff's solicitor in this case I am referring to the solicitor who was instructed by the next friend. The plaintiff's present solicitor is a different person. He did not begin to act for the plaintiff until 1982. As such he is completely untouched by any criticism that may be levelled against the practitioner who is referred to in this judgment as the plaintiff's solicitor.

5

When the plenary summons was issued in February 1969 in respect of the accident that had happened almost three years before, the defendant's solicitors entered an appearance within two months and requested a statement of claim.

6

No statement of claim was forthcoming. Nor was any excuse put forward for failing to deliver one. The claim ofthis young boy, which alleged that he had suffered serious and permanent injuries to his right leg, was allowed to moulder in a file in his solicitor's office. When no step had been taken by his solicitor for some two years and a half after the appearance had been entered, the defendant's solicitors served a notice of motion to have the action dismissed for failure to deliver a statement of claim within the time required by the rules of court. When that motion came before the Master of the High Court in October 1971, he ordered that if the statement of claim was not delivered within two weeks, the action would stand dismissed for want of prosecution.

7

Having thus narrowly escaped the guillotine, the plaintiff's solicitor delivered a statement of claim before the two weeks expired, but within two days thereafter he got a letter from the defendant's solicitors asking for particulars of the negligence alleged and of the personal injuries, loss and damage claimed. It took three months for the plaintiff's solicitor to reply to that letter and it took the...

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