Thompson v Minister for Social Welfare

JurisdictionIreland
CourtHigh Court
JudgeO'Hanlon J.,
Judgment Date16 March 1989
Neutral Citation1989 WJSC-HC 2523
Docket Number[1988 No. 299 J.R.],229 JR/1988
Date16 March 1989

1989 WJSC-HC 2523

THE HIGH COURT

229 JR/1988
THOMPSON v. MIN SOCIAL WELFARE
JUDICIAL REVIEW

BETWEEN

THOMAS THOMPSON
APPLICANT

AND

THE MINISTER FOR SOCIAL WELFARE
RESPONDENT

Citations:

SOCIAL WELFARE (CONSOLIDATION) ACT 1981 S142(2)

UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE (APPLICATION FOR ASSISTANCE REGS) ORDER 1934 SI 136/1934

SOCIAL WELFARE (CONSOLIDATION) ACT 1981 S298(12)

SOCIAL WELFARE (CONSOLIDATION) ACT 1981 S137

SOCIAL WELFARE (CONSOLIDATION) ACT 1981 S138

UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE ACT 1933

ELM DEVELOPMENTS LTD, STATE V BORD PLEANALA 1981 ILRM 108

GALLAGHER V CORRIGAN & MIN FOR JUSTICE UNREP HIGH BLAYNEY 01.02.88

THOMAS MCLOUGHLIN & SOCIAL WELFARE ACT 1958 IR 1

SOCIAL WELFARE (ASSISTANCE, DECISIONS & APPEALS) REGS 1953 SI 9/1953

Synopsis:

NATURAL JUSTICE

Fair procedures

Unemployment - Assistance - Discontinuance - Decision - Deciding officer - Notice of intention to review entitlement to assistance - ~See~ Social services, welfare - (1988/229 JR - O'Hanlon J. - 16/3/89) [1989] IR 618

|Thompson v. Minister for Social Welfare|

SOCIAL SERVICES

Welfare

Benefits - Unemployment - Assistance - Disqualification - Decisions of deciding officers - Natural justice - Fair procedures - Refusal of recipient to attend training courses - Held that, notwithstanding the warnings already given to him, the applicant should have been informed of the intention to discontinue his unemployment assistance before the decision to do so was taken - Held that such decision should be quashed - Unemployment Assistance (Application for Assistance) Regulations, 1934 - Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 1981, ss. 142, 298 - (1988/229 JR - O'Hanlon J. - 16/3/89) [1989] IR 618

|Thompson v. Minister for Social Welfare|

1

Judgment of O'Hanlon J.,dated the 16th March, 1989.

2

The Applicant was in receipt of Unemployment Assistance from 1981 to 1987. In the latter part of 1987 and in the early part of 1988 a series of decisions were made in his case under the provisions of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 1981, by Deciding Officers and an Appeals Officer, which had the effect of terminating for the time being his entitlement to receive such payments of Unemployment Assistance. The conclusion reached on three occasions was the same - that the Applicant was not genuinely seeking employment and was therefore disqualified from receiving the payments applied for by himunder the Act. The first decision disqualified him from receiving payment for a period of six weeks because of his refusal to take part in a job training course.

3

The validity of each of these decisions is challenged by the Applicant on a variety of grounds. The following is a list of the relevantdecisions:-

4

(1) Decision of Mr. Mongey, Deciding Officer, dated 23 October,1987;

5

(2) Decision of Mr. Mongey, Deciding Officer, dated 5 November,1987;

6

(3) Decision of Mr. O Raghallaigh, Appeals Officer, dated 7 January,1988;

7

(4) Decision of Mr. Holmes, Deciding Officer, dated 13th April,1988.

8

The Applicant is a widower, aged 48/49, with four children whose ages range from 15 to 19, and was living in Limerick at all times relevant to these proceedings. He was in continuous employment up to 1981, his general work experience being as porter or security officer, and he was then unemployed and in receipt of Unemployment Assistance up to the year 1987. On the 2nd September, 1987, the Social Welfare Services Office of the Department of Social Welfare asked him to attend for interview as part of the National Jobsearch Programme. He duly attended on the 16th September, 1987, and was offered a place in a Jobsearch Course described as "a four week programme of career advice backed up by training in interview skills and assistance in self presentation". He was informed in the letter of 2ndSeptember, 1987, that course participants would be given free access to newspapers, telephones, typing, travel allowance and postage to assist them in seeking employment. The letter also contained a warning in the following terms:- "You will appreciate that failure to attend the Manpower interview or co-operate subsequently will result in your social welfare entitlement being reviewed."

9

The Applicant refused to have anything to do with the proposed course, concluding that it would be of no assistance to him. He also claims in these proceedings that it would have cost him money to attend it, but this was not referred to by him in the Notices of Appeal from the Deciding Officer to the Appeals Officer and appears to be without foundation in fact. I believe it to be an afterthought and not a factor which had any material effect on his decision at the time.

10

He was called for a further interview by letter of the 13th October, 1987, and again attended on the 20th October, 1987, but only for the purpose of reiterating his refusal to attend the proposed course, or indeed any course which might be offered for his benefit. It also appears from an affidavit sworn by him that in the period which intervened between the two interviews he was interviewed on two occasions by officials from the Department of Social Welfare as to his reasons for refusing to participate in the proposed course.

11

Around the same period a letter was sent to the Applicant by the Employment Exchange Office in Limerick asking him to explain why he had refused the offer of a place on a Jobsearch course and informing him that a delay in replying might affecthis continued entitlement to payment of Unemployed Assistance. The Applicant replied stating as follows:

"I dont intend to go on this course because I feel its of no benefit to me. I would also like to point out to you that I am available for work."

12

The relevant documentation was then referred for consideration to Mr. Mongey in...

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