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Injustice to plaintiff would be greater than to defendant if delayed personal injuries action were not allowed to proceed

By: Mark Tottenham BL

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High Court, on appeal from the Master, grants order extending time for the delivery of a statement of claim, where an accident causing the plaintiff to be disabled occurred in 1971, a summons was issued and served in 1973, but no statement of claim was issued in circumstances where the solicitor dealing with the file left the firm and a senior partner became ill and died, on the grounds that although the delay was both inordinate and inexcusable, the injustice to the plaintiff in dismissing the action would be greater than any injustice to the defendant in allowing it to proceed.

Application to set aside order of the Master - extension of time to deliver and file statement of claim - counter application to dismiss action for want of prosecution - claim for personal injuries - road traffic accident - vehicle driven by plaintiff collided with heap of stones placed on road by local authority servants or agents - plaintiff rendered disabled for life - accident in May 1971 - consultation with solicitors in same month - Garda report 1972 - investigations - medical examination - change of personnel in firm - illness and death of senior partner - statement of claim drafted but not delivered - request for consent to late filing of statement of claim - refusal of consent - principles concerning delay - whether inordinate or inexcusable - balance of justice - whether litigant personally blameworthy or if delay result of inactivity by solicitor - nature of case - whether missing witness was prejudicial.

Note: This is intended to be a fair and accurate report of a decision made public by a court of law. Any errors should be notified to the editor and will be dealt with accordingly.

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