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Trial Judge was correct in finding that a claim was statute barred

By: Heather Furlong BL

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Court of Appeal dismisses appeal from the High Court and affirms decision that a claim relating to schemes made by the Minister for the eradication of bovine tuberculosis was statute barred, on the grounds that: there was no evidence of fraud, concealment or misrepresentation, and the trial judge was correct in finding that some of the claims were public law matters and were not brought within the required time limits.

Court of Appeal – plenary summons relate to the operation of the Disease of Animals Act 1966 – TB scheme – Brucellosis Scheme – claims refer to matters concerning his animals alleged to have occurred in 1990s or in 2000 – claim dismissed – statute barred – public law claims not brought within the time limits provided – appeal process – cause of action accrued more than six years prior to the issuing of proceedings – rejected that there was any concealment by the Minister that non-statutory grants offended Article 15.2.1 of the Constitution – claims did not factually support the proposition of deliberate ensnarement of the plaintiff in participating in the unconstitutional activity - Order 84, rule 21 – High Court found there was no good reason to extend time – substantial lapse of time – acquiescence – State established inordinate and inexcusable delay – grounds of appeal assert that the motion judge erred in finding she made without identifying any specific error of law – claim that the trial judge erred in relying on dates other than those pleaded – those dates were not the subject matter of objection in the High Court – ground of appeal is rejected – alleged misrepresentation by counsel for the Minister in the criminal proceedings against the plaintiff that Order 84, rule 21 should not have been applied – equitable estoppel – fraudulent misrepresentation – allegations of misrepresentation set out for the first time in written submissions – not in affidavit – no evidence that there was a failure to disclose relevant facts known only to the Minister – claim of estoppel by representation cannot succeed where there was no concealment or fraud – no orthodox legal estoppel – conduct cannot be said to be unconscionable – expression during course of legal proceedings as to the scope and effect of a particular Supreme Court decision – plaintiff was represented by a solicitor and counsel – appeal dismissed – twenty year timespan – no good reason for extending the period – motion judge did engage with the explanations for the delay – trial judge correct in holding that claim was a public law claim – should have been made within the time limits set out in the rules – clear from the pleadings that the claim was never intended to be a claim for malicious prosecution – unjust to permit amendment to pleadings at this late stage – appeal dismissed – costs follow the event.

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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