Readers were enraged at the contents of a previous blog on the inexplicable lack of activity on the part of the High Court in the case of Swords v Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. Conspiracy theories came thick and fast, with the theme of these comments being that when the balance of power between the executive and the judiciary is skewed, you have the beginnings of a dictatorship. Regarding this theory, I can only quote Francis Urquhart: “You might very well think that; I couldn’t possibly comment”.
Unfortunately, nothing has changed. The return day was yesterday, 17th June 2016, and the parties assembled at the High Court, only to hear the judge once more adjourn the matter as he has not yet completed his judgment.
To summarise therefore, this is how the High Court has dealt with the Swords application:
2013/4122 P: Swords v. Minister of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
Schedule of dates on which reserved judgement should have been delivered
|12/03/2015||High Court case concludes – Judgment reserved by Justice Keane|
|13/05/2015||Judgment listed for 113/05/2015, but adjourned in advance to 29/07/2015|
|29/07/2015||Both legal teams in Court, only to hear Justice Keane state that judgment was not ready and adjourned until 13/10/2015|
|13/10/2015||Both legal teams in Court, only to hear Justice Keane state that judgment was not ready and adjourned until 16/12/2016|
|16/12/2015||Both legal teams in Court, only to hear Justice Keane state that judgment was not ready and adjourned until 04/03/2016|
|03/03/2016||Courts service communicate to legal teams by e-mail that judgment would now be delivered on 20/05/2016|
|11/04/2016||Courts service communicate to legal teams by e-mail that judgment would now be delivered on 26/05/2016|
|23/05/2016||Courts service communicate to legal teams by e-mail that judgment would now be delivered on 17/06/2016|
|17/06/2016||Both legal teams in Court, only to hear Justice Keane state judgement was not ready and adjourned until 29/07/2016|
In the previous blog on this, mention was made of the judgment of McMullen v. Ireland (Application no. 42297/98, judgment delivered on 29/10/2004), where the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found that Ireland had violated Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights (the right to a speedy trial). Another judgment by the ECHR, for the same reasons, was Rooney v. Ireland (Application no.32614/10), where the Government of Ireland was ordered to pay damages to the applicant for the continuous delaying of his case before the High Court and the Supreme Court.
It would seem that the Irish government is determined to ignore these damaging precedents.
There is no doubt that the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee will be very interested in this news and might have some searching questions for the government lawyers when we appear before the ACCC on Friday.