Wigg v Attorney General for the Irish Free State

JurisdictionIreland
CourtSupreme Court (Irish Free State)
Judgment Date01 Apr 1925
Docket Number(No. 788 of 1925.)

Supreme Court.

(No. 788 of 1925.)
Wigg and Cochrane v. Attorney-General.
JOHN HOWARD WIGG and ROBERT OLIVER COCHRANE
Plaintiffs
and
THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF THE IRISH FREE STATE, Defendant (1)

Compensation - Civil Servants - Retirement in consequence of change of Government in Irish Free State - Pensions - Amount of - Principles of assessment - Compensation on a sliding scale - Inclusion of war bonus - "Cost of living" figure - "Over-riding maximum" - Amount of superannuation not reviewable by the Courts - 4 & 5 Wm. 4, c. 24,sect. 30 - 22 Vict. c. 26, sect. 2 - 9 Ed. 7, c. 10, sect. 4 - Government of Ireland Act, 1920 (10 & 11 Geo. 5, c. 67), sects. 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, and 60,Schedules VIII and IX - Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland, Art. 10 - Irish Free State (Agreement) Act,1922 (12 Geo. 5, c. 4), Schedule, Art. 10 - Constitution of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Éireann éireann) Act, 1922 (No. 1 of 1922), sects. 1 and 2,Schedule I, Arts. 76, 77, 78, and 80, Schedule II, Art. 10 - Provisional Government (Transfer of Functions) Order, 1922 (Stat. R. and O., 1922,No. 315).

Appeal from the judgment of Meredith J.

Plaintiffs, who were for many years in the Civil Service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, retired in consequence of the change of government effected in pursuance of the "Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland" (hereinafter referred to as "the Treaty"), and which Articles were given the force of law by the Irish Free

State (Agreement) Act, 1922 (12 Geo. 5, c. 4), as from the date of the passing of the Act, i.e. the 31st March, 1922. The plaintiffs were awarded pensions and allowances which they alleged were not in accordance with their rights under Art. 10 of the Treaty.

Art. 10 of the Treaty provides that "the Government of the Irish Free State agrees to pay fair compensation on terms not less favourable than those accorded by the [Government of Ireland] Act of 1920 to Judges, officials, members of Police Forces, and other public servants who are discharged by it, or who retire in consequence of the change of government effected in pursuance hereof."

The facts were set out in the Statement of Claim as follows:—

"1. The plaintiffs were for many years prior to the 1st day of April, 1922, persons serving in an established capacity in the Civil Service of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

2. The plaintiff, John Howard Wigg, was, at the date referred to, Assistant Architect, Office of Public Works, Dublin, and was in receipt of a salary of £430 per annum, together with bonus amounting to £232 3s. (calculated at the cost of living figure, index figure 105), and amounting on the 31st day of March, 1923, to £199 per annum, calculated at the index figure 90. The said John Howard Wigg had, for the purpose of superannuation, completed seventeen years of actual service on the 1st day of April, 1922.

3. The plaintiff, Robert Oliver Cochrane, was, at the date referred to, a higher Executive Officer, Office of Public Works, Dublin, and was in receipt of a salary of £400 per annum, together with bonus amounting to £221 5s., calculated at the index figure 105, and for the purpose of superannuation had completed twenty-six years of actual service on 1st April, 1922. The said Robert Oliver Cochrane retired on 1st January, 1923, at which date his salary was £415, with bonus of £194 5s. 6d., calculated at the index figure 90.

4. Under the terms of the Treaty made between Great Britain and the Irish Free State, and confirmed by an Act to confirm the said Treaty, 12 Geo. 5, c. 4, the plaintiffs, on retirement or removal, were entitled to fair compensation on terms not less favourable than those accorded by the Act of 1920, meaning thereby the Government of Ireland Act, 1920 (10 & 11 Geo. 5, c. 67). The said terms were comprised in the Eighth Schedule to said Act, entitled 'Provisions as to compensation of existing Irish Officers.'

5. The plaintiff, John Howard Wigg, duly served notice of retirement, and retired, as aforesaid, on the 31st day of March, 1923. The plaintiff, Robert Oliver Cochrane, duly served notice of retirement, and retired, as aforesaid, on the 1st day of January, 1923.

6. The plaintiff, John Howard Wigg, was, on the 21st day of March, 1923, notified by the Office of Public Works that he had been awarded a pension of £200 per annum, together with a supplementary annual allowance in respect of bonus: (a) reference figure £103 0s. 9d., (b) over-riding maximum £88 6s. 5d.

7. The plaintiff, Robert Oliver Cochrane, was, on the 6th day of December, 1922, notified by the Ministry of Finance that he had been awarded a pension of £206 5s. per annum, together with a supplementary annual allowance in respect of bonus: (a) reference figure £106 5s. 2d., (b) over-riding maximum £91 1s. 7d., as well as £585 15s. additional lump sum allowance, and £183 3s. 10d. supplemental additional lump sum allowance.

8. The said supplementary annual allowance in respect of bonus has not been fixed definitely, but is made dependent upon a sliding scale calculated upon the cost of living. The plaintiffs, and each of them, contend that bonus is part of the emoluments and salary, and that, in calculating the superannuation, a fixed and definite amount should be ascertained, and that no part of said allowance should be dependent upon such or any sliding scale.

9. The Minister for Finance of the Irish Free State has in the case of the plaintiffs, who at present reside in England, employed as the basis of said sliding scale the cost of living figure derived from prices in England, which is less than the cost of living figure derived from prices in the Irish Free State.

10. The plaintiff, Robert Oliver Cochrane, received for the quarters ending 31st March, 1923, and 30th June, 1923, supplementary pension at the rate of £80 19s. per annum, based on cost of living figure in England, calculated at index figure of 80 instead of £91 1s. 7d. awarded as cost of living in the Irish Free State, calculated at index figure 90. For the quarter ended 30th September, 1923, the said Robert Oliver Cochrane received his supplementary pension at the rate of £75 18s. a year, calculated at index figure of 75 instead of £86 0s. 5d., which would be the amount calculated at the Irish index figure 85.

11. The plaintiff John Howard Wigg has been paid in respect of the quarters ending the 30th June, 1923, and 30th September, 1923, supplementary annual allowance, in respect of bonus, £78 10s. 2d., calculated at index figure 80, and £73 12s., calculated at index figure 75, based on cost of living figure in England, instead of £88 6s. 5d., calculated at index figure 90, and £83 8s. 3d., calculated at index figure 85 respectively, based on cost of living figure for supplementary pension in the Irish Free State."

The plaintiffs contended that pension or superannuation rights should be based upon the cost of living figures derived from prices in the Irish Free State, and that the award should be based upon such figures if a sliding scale might be adopted for the purpose of computation of pension.

And they also contended that, having regard to their respective years of service, the additional annual allowance in respect of bonus had not been calculated according to the rules established under the Superannuation Acts, 1859 to 1914, but had been restricted by the use of an over-riding maximum, which was illegal and without foundation in point of law.

They further contended that the supplementary additional allowance in respect of bonus had not been awarded on the full bonus to which the plaintiffs were respectively entitled, having regard to the facts alleged in the preceding paragraphs of the Statement of Claim.

And they also contended that the said supplementary additional allowance in respect of bonus had been awarded on the basis of 75 per cent., and not upon the bonus actually enjoyed by the plaintiffs respectively; and the plaintiffs contended that such principle of computation was contrary to law, and that the award should be based upon the full bonus.

They claimed (1) a declaration that the compensation awarded to them respectively was not fair compensation, inasmuch as part of the said compensation was put on a sliding scale; (2) a declaration that the bonus was part of the emoluments and salary formerly enjoyed by them, and that, in calculating the superannuation allowance to be paid to them, a fixed award should have been made, and that no part of such allowance should be put on a sliding scale; (3) a declaration that, if any portion of the said allowance might be based on a sliding scale or cost of living figure, the same should be based on the Irish and not on the English cost of living figure irrespective of the residence of the plaintiffs, or either of them; (4) a declaration that, in the computation of pension in respect of such bonus, the same should not be limited by an over-riding maximum, and that such limitation might be declared illegal; (5) a declaration that, for the purpose of compensation and bonus, the 1st day of April, 1922, was the date by reference to which a superannuation allowance or additional allowance should be fixed and not the actual date of retirement; and the plaintiff, Robert Oliver Cochrane, claimed, in addition, (6) a declaration that the supplementary additional allowance in respect of bonus awarded was inadequate and had not been calculated in the proper manner, and that the award of such on 75 per cent. of the amount of bonus was contrary to law, and that the same should have been awarded on the full amount of bonus.

The defendant in his defence admitted the several matters of fact alleged in the Statement of Claim, but he denied that the plaintiffs, or either of them, were entitled on retirement or removal to the alleged, or any compensation, and referred to the provisions of the Treaty and the...

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