Talbot v Hibernian Group Plc and Another

JudgeMr. Justice Kearns
Judgment Date26 March 2009
Neutral Citation[2009] IESC 27
CourtSupreme Court
Date26 March 2009

[2009] IESC 27


Denham J.

Kearns J.

Clarke J.

[No. 350 of S.C./2007]
Talbot v Hibernian Group Plc & Amicus The Union







RSC O.19 r28

RSC O.19 r27


Dismissal of proceedings

No reasonable cause of action - Allegations of bias - Whether action frivolous and vexatious - Whether pleadings prolix - Whether claim bound to fail - Inherent jurisdiction - Whether plaintiff failed to disclose reasonable cause of action - Rules of the Superior Court 1986 (SI 15/1986), O 19, r 28 - Appeal dismissed (350/2007 - SC - 26/3/2009) [2009] IESC 27

Talbot v Hibernian Group plc

Facts the plaintiff’s claim against his former employers and trade union was struck out by the High Court under both Order 19, rule 28 of the Rules of the Superior Courts 1986 and under the Court’s inherent jurisdiction as being frivolous and vexatious and disclosing no reasonable cause of action. The plaintiff appealed to the Supreme Court, alleging that the trial judge wrongly exercised her discretion to dismiss the proceedings and that she was biased.

Held by the Supreme Court (Kearns J; Denham and Clarke JJ concurring) in dismissing the appeal, 1, that, apart from the jurisdiction granted to it pursuant to Order 19, rule 28 of the Rules of the Superior Courts 1986, the Superior Courts had an inherent jurisdiction to ensure that an abuse of process of the courts did not occur. There was nothing put forward by the plaintiff in the appeal to suggest that the High Court erred in reaching the conclusion it did.

Reporter: P.C.


JUDGMENT of Mr. Justice Kearns delivered on the 26th day of March, 2009


Judgment delivered by Kearns J. [nem diss]


This is an appeal brought by the plaintiff against the order of the High Court (Irvine J.) made on 14 November, 2007 dismissing his claim against the second named defendant under both Order 19, Rule 28 of the Rules of the Superior Courts and under the Court's inherent jurisdiction.


The involvement of the first named defendant in these proceedings arises by virtue of the fact that the plaintiff worked as a claims handler for Hibernian Insurance from 1956 until 2001. In the last ten years of his employment, unhappy differences arose between the plaintiff and his employers concerning both the nature and volume of work which the plaintiff was required to do and the levels of remuneration which he received. At all material times the second named defendant was the Union representing employees in the plaintiff's position and the plaintiff in these proceedings contends that the second named defendant failed to adequately defend or vindicate his rights in its exchanges with his employers and further conspired with his employers to defeat or damage his rights and entitlements.


The plaintiff may nowadays perhaps be better described as a serial litigant. He has engaged in one or other form of litigation over the past twenty years. Some of this litigation arose from the break up of his marriage, but lengthy and protracted proceedings were also undertaken by or on behalf of the plaintiff against his employers, his trade union and even his golf club. His multiple complaints deriving from his employment were the subject of hearings before the Rights Commissioner, the Labour Court and the Employment Appeals Tribunal. While voluminous papers have been lodged by the plaintiff for the purpose of this appeal, many consist of newspaper clippings, internal communications within the insurance company for which he worked and other documentation with little or no relevance to the issue which this Court must decide. However, a useful summary of the nature of the dispute which existed between the plaintiff and his employers is set out in the decision of the Labour Court on 18 th June, 2001 where the dispute was characterised in the following terms:-


1. The worker concerned has over 44 years unbroken service. The problems associated with his employment commenced in 1980, when the worker was forced to join liability claims to assist with the volume of work which he completed efficiently and competently. His colleagues in that section received far higher remuneration for a lesser workload. The worker was resented and treated unfairly by his immediate manager and denied opportunities for promotion. He was harassed and victimised over a long number of years and has been issued with a number of dismissal notices (details supplied to the Court).

2. The re- grading offered to the worker was totally inadequate and insufficient given his vast experience and his expertise as senior claims handler going back to 1974. The appellant undertook a very significant volume of work in a very stressful environment. The salary of the worker does not reflect his duties and responsibilities over many years. The worker's claim is for a pension, index linked to inflation, equal to his present salary, and loss of earnings, which he claims are deserved and were denied as follows: £30,000 for five years 1984 - 1989, £35,000 for five years 1990 - 1995 and £40,000 for five years 1996 - 2001.




1. The current grading system, including the appeals procedure, was agreed between the company and MSF. The worker was a member of the union at the time of the agreement. The system is a fair and equitable one and applies to all staff. Other equivalent workers to the appellant are graded similarly.


2. The appellant sought an appeal of his assigned grade through the agreed procedure. He was represented by MSF during the appeals process and was regraded to a higher grade applicable to the duties and responsibilities of his position. The grading being sought by the appellant (Grade E1) is not applicable in any way to his role as a Claims Adviser.


3. The appellant has refused to sign the authority charter for his position and has also refused to co-operate with the company's performance appraisal system. This served only to adversely impact on his earnings potential."


While the Labour Court proceeded to disallow the plaintiff's claim, I do not wish to be taken as expressing a view one way or another as to the correctness of that decision. I merely insert this short summary to convey the gist of the plaintiff's complaints. Furthermore, given that the plaintiff has not in any way contested the factual summary contained in the judgment delivered by the High Court in this matter (apart from a minor detail in respect of one person's relationship to Mr. Gerry Shanahan, a member of the respondent union) it is unnecessary to refer to the factual background in any greater detail. Further, no argument was advanced during the course of the hearing of this appeal to suggest that incorrect legal principles were applied by the learned trial judge. The...

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1 cases
  • Talbot v McCann Fitzgerald Solicitors and Others
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • 8 October 2010
    ...UNREP IRVINE 14.11.2007 2007/58/12467 2007 IEHC 385 TALBOT v HIBERNIAN GROUP PLC & AMICUS THE UNION UNREP SUPREME 26.3.2009 2009/54/13803 2009 IESC 27 TALBOT v MCCANN FITZGERALD SOLICITORS & ORS UNREP SUPREME 26.3.2009 2009/54/13657 2009 IESC 25 RSC O.19 r29 RSC O.19 r28 FAY v TEGRAL PIPES ......

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