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

By: Mark Tottenham

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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:

In this series of articles, we highlight the 25 cases most cited in these judgments.

This week, Nos 16-20.

No 16. Rainsford v. Limerick Corporation [1995] 2 I.L.R.M. 561

This case concerned a serious road traffic accident in 1971, where a plenary summons was issued in 1973. No statement of claim was delivered by reason of the fact that the solicitor dealing with the file had left the firm and a senior partner became ill and later died. An application was made to extend time to deliver a statement of claim. The court had to consider whether the delay was both inordinate and inexcusable and - if so - whether the injustice to the plaintiff in having her claim dismissed would be greater than the injustice to the defendant in having to meet a stale claim. Curiously, in a case concerning delay, the judgment was delivered in 1979, but was not reported until 1995.

See the report of this case on


No 17. A.A. v. Medical Council [2003] IESC 70, [2003] 4 IR 302

This case concerned a medical practitioner who sought an order of prohibition concerning an inquiry by the fitness to practice committee of the Medical Council. He had failed in an earlier judicial review concerning the same inquiry, but issued a new claim concerning the failure to provide him with legal aid in respect of the inquiry. The High Court, and then the Supreme Court had to consider whether the issue concerning legal aid might have been raised in the earlier proceedings and whether the failure to raise it at that stage prevented the practitioner from raising it in a new application.

See the report of this case on


No 18. State (Lynch) v. Cooney [1982] I.R. 337

The applicant in this case sought to challenge a provision (section 31(1) of the Broadcasting Authority Act) that allowed the Minister for Communications to restrict certain material from being broadcast. The Minister had, at short notice, made an order that RTE, the state broadcaster, refrain from broadcasting a party political broadcast by a party ‘styling itself Provisional Sinn Féin’. The court had to consider whether the legislation had been unconstitutional. If not, the court had to consider whether the Minister had been obliged to consult with the persons affected prior to making the order.

See the report of this case on


No 19. Howard v. Commissioners of Public Works [1994] 1 I.R. 101

This case arose from two proposed developments by the Commissioners of Public Works. One was a visitors’ centre in the Burren region of Co Clare. The other was an interpretive centre in Co Wicklow. The Commissioners claimed that they were exempt from planning permission based on a historic ‘Crown prerogative’. The court had to consider whether such a prerogative had survived the enactment of the Constitution, and whether such an exemption could arise from other ambiguities in planning legislation.

See the report of this case on


No 20. State (Healy) v. Donoghue [1976] IR 325

The applicant in this case was a young person of limited education, who had appeared before the District Court on a charge of larceny. Although he had been granted legal aid, his solicitor did not appear at trial. The court refused an adjournment and convicted him. The court had to consider whether this amounted to a breach of his constitutional right to a trial ‘in due course of law’.

See the report of this case on

Next week: Nos 11-15.

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