It’s official – nothing is happening at the High Court!

judge asleep

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”.

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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.

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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

Date Occurrence
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.

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It would seem that the Irish government is determined to ignore these damaging precedents.

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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.

About Neil van Dokkum

Neil van Dokkum (B. SocSc; LLB; LLM; PGC Con.Lit) Neil is a law lecturer and has been so since arriving in Ireland from South Africa in 2002. Prior to that Neil worked in a leading firm of solicitors from 1987-1992, before being admitted as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa (a barrister) in 1992. He published three books in South Africa on employment law and unfair dismissal, as well as being published in numerous national and international peer-reviewed journals. Neil currently specialises in employment law, medical negligence law, family law and child protection law. He dabbles in EU law (procurement and energy). Neil retired from practice in 2002 to take up a full-time lecturing post. He has published three books since then, “Nursing Law for Irish Students (2005); “Evidence” (2007); and “Nursing Law for Students in Ireland” (2011). He is an accredited and practising mediator and is busy writing a book, with Dr Sinead Conneely, on Mediation in Ireland. His current interest is Ireland’s energy policy and its impact on the people and the environment. He is also researching the area of disability as a politico-economic construct. Neil is very happily married to Fiona, and they have two sons, Rory and Ian.
This entry was posted in EU Renewable Energy 2020 Target, Freedom of Information; Access to Environmental Information; AIE; Commissioner for Environmental Information, High Court; Judicial Review; Appeal on the merits; judicial discretion, NREAP; National Renewable Energy Action Plan; EU Commission; Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee; ACCC, Pat Swords, The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) Convention on Access to Information and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to It’s official – nothing is happening at the High Court!

  1. Owen M says:

    Could this be the longest delay of judgement in Irish history ?

  2. Richard More-O'Ferrall says:

    My faith in our legal system and in the judiciary’s ability to dispense justice in a fair and timely manner plumbed new depths last Friday, 17th June, when at approximately 11.00 a.m, in Court 9 of the High Court, I listened in dis-belief as Mr Justice Keane -cool as a cucumber and without by or leave- announced the NINTH postponement of judgement in this case.

    As I sat speechless the incident in the Summer of 1982 when Taoiseach C J Haughey memorably described the arrest in the home of his Government’s Attorney General of a man subsequently convicted of two murders, as grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented and which prompted Haughey’s great adversary, Conor Cruise-O’Brien, to coin the acronym GUBU, flashed through my mind.

    Those working in our courts seem content to operate with little or no regard to dispensing justice in a fair and timely manner, if to do so might inhibit the upward tragectory of their career paths. If Myles na Gcopaleen were still penning Cruiskeen Lawn, his great Irish Times column, today he would surely have posed the question:- “Under what Law do they conduct their business?” TEqually surely he would have obliged with the answer “Unto Themselves”.

    The underlying reasons for Judge Keane’s apparent inability to bring the case to a conclusion merits serious enquiry but will anyone stand up and do it? Lets hope the ACCC hearing this Friday will direct attention in the appropriate direction.

    Richard More-O’Ferrall
    Moyne,
    Co. Wicklow

  3. Pingback: It’s official – nothing is happening at the High Court! | ajmarciniak

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