This site is essentially a hobby; I don’t always have time to note every development. And so, like the Supreme Court itself, I have my own backlog to slay. There are several Supreme Court judgments from 2012 that I haven’t yet covered. I’ll do a round-up of those unblogged written judgments–here’s the first installment. I’ll be sure to finish the job before the new law term starts in October.
(1) MJELR v. McGuigan  IESC 17: Brendan McGuigan is wanted by the Lithuanian authorities on charges that he went shopping for weapons in that country on behalf of the Real IRA. Opposing proceedings against him under the European Arrest Warrant Act, Mr McGuigan sought discovery of several large classes of documents. The discovery request was in support of speculative allegations of misconduct by the Irish government, and potential unfairness in the Lithuanian courts. The High Court judge made the discovery order, and the government appealed. A five-judge panel of the Supreme Court agreed with the government that the principles of discovery don’t countenance such a “fishing expedition.” Judge Murray’s reasons for denying the discovery request are available here.
(2) Moorview Developments v. First Active  IESC 22: This appeal concerned security for costs of an appeal. It’s part of the litigation between developer Brian Cunningham (and his companies) and First Active, a lender. In the High Court, the lender largely prevailed, and Cunningham and his companies want to appeal. But the lender sought security for costs against Cunningham, and the Supreme Court made such an award. In so doing, the Court applied established principles of Irish law and rejected a submission — based on English law and presented to the Court by Hugo Page QC — that the Court should undertake a detailed analysis of the merits of the appeals before making an order for security for costs. Judge Macken’s explanation is here.
(3) Coleman v. MGN Ltd  IESC 20: Mr Coleman, a gentleman from Mayo, claimed he was defamed when the Daily Mirror used a photo of him to accompany an article entitled “Yob War – Boozy: Lads on a typical night out in Britain”. The Mirror Group objected that there was no evidence of publication in Ireland. The plaintiff didn’t provide hard evidence that anyone in Ireland had bought a copy of the print version of the paper. He relied on the fact that the article and picture were published on the internet, and were hence accessible to people in Ireland. But the Supreme Court said this wasn’t enough to establish jurisdiction–the plaintiff would have to provide (at least) actual evidence of people in Ireland accessing the website during that time period. So the case goes no further. The judgment is here. TJ McIntyre blogged it here.
(4) O’Sullivan v. The Law Society  IESC 21: This case arises out of a dispute between a solicitor and a client. After the client’s personal injury claim was settled, the solicitor made a claim for costs that the client considered excessive. The dispute degenerated. Eventually, the Law Society decided to commence misconduct proceedings against the solicitor in the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. In this judicial review action, the solicitor sought to halt the proceedings against him. The High Court found no basis for doing so, and the Supreme Court agreed that the proceedings should go ahead. Judge McKechnie’s judgment is here.
(5) Marlan Homes v. Walsh  IESC 23: this is a Celtic Tiger property development contract gone wrong. As so often with questions of contractual interpretation, it involved a conflict between commercial sense (which the High Court favoured) and the literal words (which prevailed in the Supreme Court). Judge McKechnie: ”This was by any stretch of normality an extraordinary transaction, a reflection of the insatiable belief that whatever the costs and shortcomings of a deal may be, once land was involved, upon which houses could be built, and disposed of with a frenzy of marketing activity, money could be made. Proper, even basic practices, commercial assessment, legal appraisal and risk evaluation, were stood down.” The judgment is here.