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The top five most cited cases in Irish superior court judgments

By: Mark Tottenham

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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 Subscribers can also avail of an e-mail alert system.

In this series of articles, we highlight the 25 most cited cases among those 9,000 judgments.


No 1. Meadows v. Minister for Justice [2010] 2 I.R. 701; [2010] IESC 3

The applicant in this case was the subject of a deportation order. She had come to Ireland from Nigeria, and claimed asylum on the basis that she was at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM). Asylum had been refused, and the Minister for Justice then ordered that she be deported. The applicant challenged that decision on the basis that insufficient reasons, and claimed that the Minister was under a greater obligation to make a proportionate decision when it affected the fundamental or constitutional rights of individuals.

The Supreme Court had to decide whether to apply the traditional test of judicial review - whether the decision was ultra vires or whether it was unreasonable - and consider whether the High Court should address the proportionality of the decision as well.

The reason that this decision has been so widely cited is almost certainly because of the disproportionate number of written judgments on the issue of asylum and immigration - probably nearly a quarter of all judgments delivered since 2011.

See the report of Meadows on


No 2. Aer Rianta c.p.t. v. Ryanair Limited [2001] 4 I.R. 607; [2002] 1 ILRM 381

In this case, the plaintiff, the operator of an airport, sought summary judgment against an airline for landing charges and passenger load charges. The airline claimed in affidavits that the charges had been varied in discussions with its chief executive. The court had to determine whether summary judgment could be granted where the defence appeared to be quite weak, or whether it would be necessary to determine the matter by way of oral evidence at plenary hearing.

See the report of Aer Rianta v. Ryanair on


No 3. Harrisrange Ltd. v. Duncan [2002] IEHC 14, [2003] 4 I.R. 1

A landlord in a Circuit Court action sought ejectment against a commercial tenant. The tenant counterclaimed for a new lease pursuant to the statutory scheme. The landlord applied for summary judgment for mesne profits. The court had to consider a number of matters, including a claim by the tenant for disturbance and an allegation of assault and battery.

The reason that this judgment is so widely cited is that, like the Aer Rianta v. Ryanair case, it sets out the principles for an order granting summary judgment.

See the report of Harrisrange v. Duncan on


No 4. I.R. v. Minister for Justice [2009] IEHC 353 (Unreported, Cooke J., 24th July, 2009)

The Refugee Appeals Tribunal had refused refugee status to an applicant from Belarus, who claimed to have been persecuted because of political activity. The tribunal considered that his claim lacked credibility, but had failed to consider a number of documents exhibited on his behalf. The court had to consider whether a negative credibility finding could be sustained in circumstances where there was documentary material available that might have rendered that finding unsound.

See the report of I.R. v. Minister for Justice on


5. Hay v. O’Grady [1992] 1 I.R. 210

A nurse sought personal injuries arising from an assault by a patient who suffered from mental health difficulties but was being reintegrated into the community. The claim was dismissed in the High Court, and appealed to the Supreme Court. On appeal, the court had to consider the role of an appeal court in such circumstances - whether they could substitute any findings of fact for those found at trial, and whether they could draw different inferences from such findings.

The reason that this judgment is so widely cited is that it sets out the parameters for an appeal court in considering an appeal from a plenary hearing.

See the report of Hay v. O’Grady on


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