An action-packed week in the Supreme Court lies ahead. The main event is probably the hearing in MJELR v. Tobin. Most readers know the story. Ciaran Tobin lost control of his car while driving in Hungary and killed a two-year-old and a five-year-old. He left Hungary before he was charged with criminal negligence. He did not return to Hungary for the trial; the Hungarian courts found him guilty and have sentenced him to a prison term. Mr Tobin avoided extradition once, after the Supreme Court found that he had not “fled” Hungary–he had simply left (judgment here). But the Oireachtas has since amended the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003 to remove the “fleeing” requirement, with retroactive effect. The government again seeks extradition to Hungary. This time around, the High Court has ordered Mr Tobin’s surrender (here). The Court has scheduled two days of argument: Tuesday and Wednesday.
There are two other hearings this week. On Monday, three judges will hear the appeal in McDaid v. Carty, a personal injuries case. And on Thursday, the Court will consider FBD Insurances v. Connors. It’s an action to set aside an arbitrator’s award on procedural unfairness grounds. The arbitrator refused the insurance company’s request for an adjournment, so the insurance company walked out. The arbitrator decided to go ahead with the arbitration and found in favour of the policy-holders. The High Court, in a judgment available here, granted the insurance company’s request to set aside the award. The effect of the High Court’s decision is to overrule an adjournment decision by an arbitrator on the ground that it was unreasonable. At first glance, that’s a highly questionable result.
The Court will deliver also judgments in two cases. [UPDATE: The Court will also deliver judgment in Harris Assemblers v. DPP , a prosecutorial delay case; High Court judgment available here, my preview here.] One is in Caffrey v. Governor of Portlaoise Prison. When Caffrey was initially set for hearing in March of last year, I wrote this preview:
Mr. Caffrey seeks a writ of habeas corpus ordering his immediate release. He was sentenced to life imprisonment by an English court for murder. In England, the trial judge sets the minimum term or “tariff” for a prisoner shortly after the life sentence is imposed. In Mr. Caffrey’s case, the English trial judge set his tariff at twelve years. At his request, he was later transferred to Ireland to serve out his sentence. He claims that, now his twelve years are up, he must automatically be released. The theory is [that] detention beyond the twelve-year tariff could only be based on the need to incapacitate him, and in Irish law incapacitation is officially an improper purpose for imprisonment. In the High Court, Charleton J. rejected the claim, concluding essentially that the initial sentence was life imprisonment, and that the life sentence was based on legitimate deterrent and rehabilitative goals.
On Thursday, in Shirley v. AO Gorman, the Court will rule on a landlord’s challenge to the constitutionality of section 7 of the Landlord and Tenant Act, 1984. That provision provides the pricing mechanism under a statutory right for tenants to buy out their landlords’ interests. The Supreme Court’s decision will arrive six years after the High Court ruling (available here; Judge Peart rejected the claim in a lengthy and interesting judgment).
As usual, I will post links to the new judgments when they’re available.