State (Williams) v Army Pensions Board

JudgeMr. Justice Keane
Judgment Date13 January 1981
Neutral Citation1981 WJSC-HC 1378
Docket NumberNo. 478 S.S./1980
CourtHigh Court
Date13 January 1981





1981 WJSC-HC 1378

No. 478 S.S./1980



Judgment of Mr. Justice Keanedelivered the 13th day of January 1981


The applicant is the widow of a Sergeant in the Defence Forces, who died on the 3rd October, 1978. His service had included service with United Nations Forces in the Congo and Cyprus respectively in the years 1961 and 1967. On the 26th January, 1979, the applicant made an application to the second-named respondent for an allowance under Section 14 of the Army Pensions Act 1927as amended by the Army Pensions Act 1943. The applicant was clearly not entitled to an allowance under that section, but her application was also treated as an application for an allowance under Section 11 of the Army Pensions Act, 1968, the material part of which provides that where a person dies while serving in the Defence Forces or within eight years from his dischargeand"that person's death was due to disease aggravated, accelerated or excited by -


(i) a wound or disease attributable to service with the United Nations Force, or


(ii) service with the United Nations Force"


The second-named respondent may grant to the widow and children of such a person certain specified allowances and gratuities.


The application was accompanied by the Death Certificate, which was not produced in this Court, but which according to the application gave the cause of death as "pneumonia resulting from multiple myeloma". It was further stated that there was "no sign of this or any other illness" until 1967 when the deceased was serving with the United Nations Forces in Cyprus. It was also stated that the deceased had spent long and short periods every year in St. Bricin's Hospital since 1967. The applicant also said that at the time of the deceased's admission to hospital in Cyprus it was stated that a tropical virus of some kind was suspected.


As required by section 7 of the Act of 1927, the application was referred by the second-named respondent to the first-named respondents On the 15th May, 1979, the second-named respondent informed theapplicant that no allowance could be made to her, as (interalia) it had not been established that the diseases which caused her husband's death were attributable to his service with the United Nations Forces or that they were aggravated, accelerated or excited by service with such a Force.


The applicant made a second application in May, 1979. In support of this application, she furnished reports to the first-named respondent by Colonel Patrick J. Quinlan, who had been her husband's commanding officer during his period of service in the Congo, and the Reverend Father P. Fagan, who had been chaplain to her husband's unit in the Congo. On the 22nd November, 1979, the second-named respondent informed the applicant by letter that these reports had been referred to the first-named respondents, who after full and careful consideration had reported that they did not contain evidence not available prior to the issue of their earlier report. The second- named respondent added that the first-named respondents were a statutory body, that their findings were conclusive and that, in the circumstances, it was regretted that no action was possible in the case.


Shortly after the receipt of this letter, the applicant's son asked the first-named respondents to inform him of the evidence upon which the applicant's application had been refused and, in particular, of the medical evidence upon which the application had been refused. Each of his requests was refused.


On the 3rd November, 1980, the applicant applied to this Court for a conditional order of certiorari quashing what was described as a "decision" of the first-named respondents. Mr. Justice D'Arcy did not grant any conditional order, but gave the applicant liberty to serve a Notice of Motion on the secretary of the Department of Defence and on the Chief State Solicitor seeking such an order of certiorari. Such a Notice of Motion was duly served and replying affidavits have been filed on behalf of the respondents.


In her affidavit, the applicant says that the decisions in question are bad...

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