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The art of boring advocacy

What can a new barrister like me learn from the mountains of what has been written about advocacy? Quite a lot, I think. A big theme you will come across is to ask: how listenable is your advocacy? Or, put in a way that refers to one of my favourite qu …

Seán Beatty BL | October 5, 2021

The Archives Act, Data Protection and the GDPR: Do Garda PULSE records amount to a historic account?

Although now 3 years in operation, the GDPR remains as much a mystery to many as it did when it was first introduced. Data protection has become particularly topical in the criminal law sphere as challenges to the manner in which the Gardaí obtain and …

Gemma McLoughlin Burke | September 22, 2021

A letter from a judge to a teenager

(Originally published in Decisis Law Ireland in 2017) It is not often that judgments of the superior courts of any country go ‘viral’ online. They are normally written for, and read by, the legal teams in the case. Even where high profile cases are dec …

Mark Tottenham BL | September 21, 2021

Law on Trial podcast covering legal issues in Ireland and beyond

A new legal affairs podcast called Law on Trial has been launched by the Business Post. Law on Trial is hosted by Mark Tottenham BL, editor of Decisis.ie, and Peter Leonard BL, with Catherine Sanz, legal correspondent of the Business Post. The show wil …

Decisis | September 15, 2021

“Child-friendly” Judgments and Beyond: Simple Language in the Superior Courts

Introduction It’s hard to recall the number of times I was told as a student to avoid legalese at all costs. I was advised that it only complicates reading and does little to impress an examiner. I’m sure many who read this will have had the same exper …

Seán Beatty BL | September 13, 2021

Women and the Law: Historic discrimination in Ireland

Gender equality in the workplace, in the family and in society more generally remains a much discussed and debated topic in Ireland, especially post-COVID when the general consensus seems to be that gender equality has been severely impacted by the pan …

Gemma McLoughlin Burke | September 7, 2021

Law Students Lament: A Slow Decline of Easily Memorised Rules of Thumb?

Depending on who you ask, a “rule of thumb” is either a useful way of remembering an otherwise wearisome idea, or a phrase which harks back to an origin we might prefer to forget. Some years ago, in the long-running “On Language” column in the New York …

Seán Beatty BL | August 18, 2021

You can’t handle the truth: The Perjury Act of 2021

On the 28th of July 2021, the Criminal Justice (Perjury and Related Offences) Act 2021 came into effect, creating a statutory offence of perjury. Prior to its enactment, perjury was a common law offence without a clear definition or sentencing paramete …

Gemma McLoughlin Burke | August 12, 2021

Gendered language and the law – Farewell sirs!

(First published in Decisis Law Ireland in October 2020) In their most recent effort to make the profession more inclusive, the Law Society have issued a statement informing members that the standard salutation “Dear Sirs” will be removed from future c …

Gemma McLoughlin Burke | July 11, 2021

Bakshi Mohit – A tale of perseverance to the Bar

Bakshi Mohit, who is from Mauritius, is a first year devil practicing in the area of crime. Although he studied the Diploma and the Barrister-at-law degree in the Inns, Bakshi’s path to the Bar has been anything but conventional. In fact, it was in 200 …

Gemma McLoughlin Burke | July 11, 2021

Barristers’ Court Dress

(Originally published in Law Ireland in May 2020) In 1995, quite a stir was made when the barristers’ wig, formerly considered obligatory, was made optional under section 49 of the Courts and Courts Officers Act of that year. Some traditional judges we …

Mark Tottenham BL | July 11, 2021

Vicarious trauma in the legal profession

(This piece was originally published in Law Ireland in January 2020) In December 2019, it was reported that a former ‘content moderator’ was suing Facebook Ireland, as well as a recruitment agency, for psychological injuries (“Man sues Facebook over ha …

Mark Tottenham BL | June 29, 2021

Big Brother Watch v UK – Data Protection for beginners

The Edward Snowden leaks, which began in 2013, exposed a wide-range of State surveillance and storage of data by governments across the world, including the US and the UK. One particular issue that was exposed was the so-called “bulk interception” of d …

Gemma McLoughlin Burke | June 24, 2021

A Healthy Practice

(This article was originally published in Decisis Law Ireland, in September 2020) Life as a barrister is not always conducive to good mental health. In the first place, much of the work concerns conflict, which is always stressful. Although most barris …

Mark Tottenham BL | June 22, 2021

Human rights and a different path in law: Liam Herrick from the ICCL

Liam Herrick is the Executive Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, an Irish non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting the civil liberties and human rights of people in Ireland. For many of those working in the NGO or Human Rights se …

Gemma McLoughlin Burke | June 16, 2021

Expert witness issues – June update

UK Post Office prosecutions – a failure of disclosure. Recently, one of the largest miscarriages of justice in UK history came to a head when about 40 convictions were set aside of people accused of misappropriating money from their employer – the UK P …

Mark Tottenham BL | June 4, 2021

Remote swearing of affidavits

As a result of COVID-19 many industries and professions have had to rethink the manner in which they conduct their business; the legal profession are no different. Lawyers have had to adapt how they traditionally carry out their activities, including t …

Priscilla McAlister | June 1, 2021
Remote Swearing of Affadavits

Remote hearings: the highlights

Remote hearings have provided endless entertainment during the past year. The world’s legal profession, notoriously lacking in tech savvy, were pushed into a new system of online hearings without any time to adjust. The result: pure comedic gold. As we …

Gemma McLoughlin Burke | May 19, 2021
Remote Hearings - Highlights

Defamation through the ages

Defamation cases are often premised on strange and unusual facts. In the recent case of Parcel Connect Ltd t/a Fastway Couriers and A&G Couriers Ltd v Twitter International Company [2020] IEHC 279 for example, unknown individuals had created a fake …

Gemma McLoughlin Burke | April 22, 2021

Truly independent guidance from expert witnesses

[This article was originally published in Law Ireland in March 2019] It may normally be assumed that a professional will aim to comply with the duties of his or her profession. Standards are set down in almost every field, and it is reasonable to suppo …

Mark Tottenham | April 11, 2021

False and misleading evidence in personal injuries claims

[This article was originally published in Law Ireland in February 2019] Recent news stories suggest that there has been an increase in fraudulent personal injuries claims. In May 2018, RTE reported that the insurance company Aviva had collected data th …

Mark Tottenham | April 11, 2021

Developments in the law relating to ‘subject to contract’ correspondence

[This article was originally published in Law Ireland in January 2019] In property negotiations, it is usual practice for the solicitors on either side to mark the correspondence ‘subject to contract / contract denied’, and to end each letter with a fo …

Mark Tottenham | April 11, 2021
Subject to Contract Correspondence

Anonymisation of personal data in written judgments

[This article was originally published in Law Ireland in December 2018] It is common in written judgments concerning assessment of damages in personal injuries cases for the judge to describe in some detail the ailments that the plaintiff is suffering …

Mark Tottenham | April 7, 2021
Anonymisation of personal data in written judgments

Citation of ‘free access’ case law – an Australian perspective

[This article, by Jenny Paglia, was originally published in Law Ireland in December 2018] In Australian courts there is a longstanding convention (articulated by practice direction or rule in most jurisdictions) that the authorised report of a judgment …

Mark Tottenham | April 7, 2021
free access case law

Fake Case Law

[Originally published in Law Ireland, March 2019] As April 1st approaches, it is easy to be nostalgic for the days of the annual fake news story. Each newspaper, and many television shows, used to have a fake news story on April Fools Day, written in s …

Mark Tottenham | April 1, 2021
Fake Case Law

The top five most cited cases in Irish superior court judgments

Since 2011, Decisis has published over 9,000 reports of Irish superior court judgments. These reports are searchable by court, judge, topic and key word, and are available to subscribers on Decisis.ie. Subscribers can also avail of an e-mail alert syst …

Mark Tottenham | March 26, 2020

The 25 most cited cases in Irish superior court judgments (Nos 6-10)

Since 2011, Decisis has published over 9,000 reports of Irish superior court judgments. These are indexed by topic, and may be found by subscribers on Decisis.ie In this series of articles, we highlight the 25 cases most cited in those 9,000 judgments. …

Mark Tottenham BL | March 19, 2020

The 25 most cited cases in Irish superior court judgments (Nos 11-15)

Since 2011, Decisis has published reports of over 9,000 Irish superior court judgments. These are indexed by topic, and can be found by subscribers on Decisis.ie In this series of articles, we highlight the 25 cases most cited in these judgments.  This …

Mark Tottenham | March 12, 2020

The 25 most cited cases in Irish judgments (Nos 16 to 20)

Since 2011, Decisis has published reports of over 9,000 Irish superior court judgments. These are indexed by topic, and can be found by subscribers on: Decisis.ie In this series of articles, we highlight the 25 cases most cited in these judgments. This …

Mark Tottenham | March 4, 2020

The 25 most cited cases in Irish superior court judgments (Nos 21 to 25)

Since 2011, Decisis has published reports of over 9,000 Irish superior court judgments. These are indexed by topic, and can be found by subscribers on Decisis.ie In this series of articles, we highlight the 25 cases most cited in these judgments. This …

Mark Tottenham BL | February 27, 2020

Scott Schedules

When a plaintiff commences litigation, not knowing what items are likely to be in dispute, he or she needs to set out each aspect of the claim carefully in the statement of claim or the indorsement of claim (as appropriate). In the defence, the defenda …

Mark Tottenham BL | February 11, 2020
Scott Schedules

The rule against barristers suing for their fees

In his 18th century Commentaries on the Laws of England (Book 3, Chap 3), William Blackstone wrote comparing ancient Roman orators with modern counsel: “Those indeed practised gratis, for honour merely or at most for the sake of gaining influence: and …

Mark Tottenham BL | February 4, 2020

A Law Report suitable for the Internet Age

Law Ireland has moved to Clarus Press, which has a distinguished record of publishing legal textbooks. Everybody at Decisis and Law Ireland is excited about this change of direction, and it is hoped that this will attract more readers to the work that we do. 

Mark Tottenham BL | January 27, 2020

Early case law available online

Many in the legal profession have benefited from the Free Access to Law Movement without necessarily being aware that there was a Free Access to Law Movement. Like running water, or street lighting, the free availability of statutes and judgments onlin …

Mark Tottenham BL | June 11, 2019

Trial by Social Media

Until the age of social media, most democracies had well-established rules for protecting reputations and determining serious allegations, at both criminal and civil level. Publishers of defamatory comments could be sued for damages. If a serious crimi …

Mark Tottenham BL | May 7, 2019
Trial by Social Media

Four cases on the criminal defences of insanity and diminished responsibility

Clinical Director of CMH entitled to raise concerns about discharge of patient M.C. v. Clinical Director – Central Mental Hospital [2016] IEHC 341 (High Court, Eagar J, 20 June 2016) An accused was found guilty but insane, but was subsequently reclassi …

Mark Tottenham BL | May 3, 2019
Insanity Diminished Responsibiloity cases in Irish Courts

Personal insolvency arrangements

Under the Personal Insolvency Act 2012, new arrangements were introduced to deal with personal insolvency, so that debtors and creditors did not need to resort to bankruptcy. Under the guidance of a personal insolvency practitioner (PIP), a debtor may …

Mark Tottenham BL | May 2, 2019
Personal Insolvency Arrangements

Assessment of damages arising from failure to register title documents

Rosbeg Partners v. LK Shields Solicitors [2018] IESC 23 (Supreme Court, O’Donnell J, 18 April 2018) Property had been purchased in 1994. The purchasers’ solicitors had undertaken to register title documents in the Land Registry, but failed to do so. Th …

Mark Tottenham BL | April 29, 2019
Failure to Register Title

Could Judges be replaced by algorithms

An algorithm is a set of rules to be followed in problem-solving operations. A computer programme can take a number of variable inputs, follow a certain set procedure, and yield a particular result. So it could be said to operate like a decision-maker, …

Mark Tottenham BL | April 26, 2019

Parkinsons’ Law of Delay

Originally published in 1957, Parkinson’s Law, or the Pursuit of Progress is most famous for the maxim in its opening line: ‘Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.’ In the work, C Northcote Parkinson addresses a number of oth …

Mark Tottenham BL | April 24, 2019
Parkinsons Law of Delay

Citation of ‘free access’ case law – an Australian perspective

In Australian courts there is a longstanding convention (articulated by practice direction or rule in most jurisdictions) that the authorised report of a judgment is the version that must be cited in preference to other versions (such as unauthorised o …

Jenny Paglia | April 22, 2019
Free Access Case Law Citations

Developments in the law relating to ‘subject to contract’ correspondence

In property negotiations, it is usual practice for the solicitors on either side to mark the correspondence ‘subject to contract / contract denied’, and to end each letter with a formula such as: “No contract or agreement shall exist at law until such …

Mark Tottenham BL | April 18, 2019

An arbitrator’s jurisdiction: a law unto itself

Often when a dispute arises the court system is what springs to mind. However, the situation is often complicated when the parties have agreed that arbitration is the appropriate means to settle any differences between opposing sides. The lines between …

Ciaran Joyce BL | April 16, 2019

Compulsory purchase orders to facilitate private industrial development

When reading written judgments, it can be easy to forget that the legal struggle reflects a more personal struggle for many litigants. In Reid v. Industrial Development Agency (Ireland), the IDA had sought to exercise its statutory power to purchase la …

Mark Tottenham BL | April 2, 2019

Anonymisation of personal data in written judgments

It is common in written judgments concerning assessment of damages in personal injuries cases for the judge to describe in some detail the ailments that the plaintiff is suffering from. These are, needless to say, essential to the determination of the …

Mark Tottenham BL | March 29, 2019

False and misleading evidence in personal injuries claims

Recent news stories suggest that there has been an increase in fraudulent personal injuries claims. Decisis has reports on over 8,000 written judgments since January 2011, with only 20 applications to dismiss personal injuries actions for false or misleading evidence.

Mark Tottenham BL | March 20, 2019

Restraining ‘McKenzie Friends’ following abuse of process

In Mr Justice Haughton’ recent lengthy judgment in Allied Irish Banks PLC v McQuaid [2018] IEHC 516 orders were granted permanently restraining a person from acting as a ‘McKenzie Friend’ or indeed from advising, participating in or assisting litigatio …

Ian Fitzharris BL | March 15, 2019

Public access to court documents

If justice is to be done in public then why are court documents not accessible to the public? Parties have access to court documents filed in litigation in which they are involved, but non-parties to that litigation – or the general public – may have a …

Ciaran Joyce BL | March 13, 2019

Stare Decisis Hibernia is now ‘DECISIS’

We are very pleased to announce that StareDecisisHibernia.com will be changing to Decisis.ie with immediate effect. Since 2011 Stare Decisis Hibernia has reported and indexed all written judgments from the Irish superior courts. Over 8,000 judgments ar …

Mark Tottenham BL | March 11, 2019

Oaths

Before giving evidence in an Irish court, most witnesses are required to swear an oath to the following effect: “I swear by Almighty God that the evidence I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” The requirement to m …

Mark Tottenham BL | March 8, 2019

Piecemeal constitutional reform

In the first 50 years after the passing of the Irish constitution in 1937, there were ten amendments. In the 41 years since 1987, there have been 26 amendments. It is questionable whether this is the best way to amend the constitution, or if there shou …

Mark Tottenham BL | March 8, 2019

Four Recent Cases on Mediation

Adjournment for mediation could be refused where previous attempts to settle had been unsuccessful Danske Bank v. SC [2018] IECA 117 (Court of Appeal, Gilligan J, 23 April 2018) In a claim by a receiver against the former wife of a purchaser of propert …

Mark Tottenham BL | March 8, 2019