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Minister positively acquiesced in ship operators’ delay in prosecuting case

By: James Cross BL

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High Court refuses application by the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources to dismiss ship operators’ proceedings for want of prosecution or the grounds of inordinate or inexcusable delay, finding that the delay in the prosecution of the case is inordinate and inexcusable, but the balance of justice lies in refusing the application as the proceedings are at an advanced stage and are ready for trial, and the Minister positively acquiesced in the delay by asking the ship operators’ not to seek a hearing date whilst they procured an advise on proofs.

Motion to dismiss the proceedings for want of prosecution/inordinate and inexcusable delay - ship operator claims that Minister’s actions have been unlawful, unjust or unfair, a breach of European law amounting to, amongst other matters, misfeasance in public office, and /or a breach of the plaintiffs’ rights, including breaches of constitutional rights - factual background of these proceedings commenced almost sixteen years ago – chronology of events – ship operator sought alternative dispute resolution – Court found that it was not unreasonable for the state defendants to maintain their entitlement to have the claim, involving as it does allegations of misfeasance of public office against a number of named department officials, resolved in court where their actions may be tested and (if the defendants’ argument was accepted) vindicated in public – ship operator dissolved 21 days after the notice of intention to proceed was filed – subsequently restored – ship operators sought a hearing date - legal principles - Whether the delay in question is inordinate and inexcusable - where the balance of justice lies - proceedings are now ready for trial – asking the ship operators’ not to seek a hearing date whilst they procured an advise on proofs is such a positive acquiescence or reassurance to the ship operators - discovery is now completed - defendants have failed to satisfy this court that the interests of justice do not lie in this matter now proceeding to an actual hearing.

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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