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Reliefs refused in proceedings concerning temporary transfer to a different unit of Irish Prison Service

By: James Cross BL

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High Court, in judicial review proceedings seeking to challenge a decision to effect a temporary transfer to a different unit of the prison service following complaints of bullying, refuses reliefs on the grounds that: (1) the transfer decision was moot as transfer did not take place and will not take place; (2) it would be inappropriate to hold the designated person to the standard of a full investigation in this preliminary phase; and (3) the claim for damages must fail as the applicant failed to satisfy the court that an unlawful and invalid decision had been made.

Judicial review – challenge to the decision to effect a temporary transfer to a different unit of the prison service – complaint of bullying – mootness – transfer did not take place - Dignity at Work policy – employment with the prison service prior to proposed transfer – chronology of events – complaints of bullying – appointment of designated person - events leading to the first transfer decision – solicitor’s letter and beginning of litigation – report is approved – leave granted to bring judicial review proceedings – decision to transfer quashed – what happened in Court - new transfer process set in train – report – leave to bring second set of judicial review proceedings – letter stating that there would be no transfer – reliefs sought – statement of opposition - procedures leading up to each of the transfer decisions – mootness – reliefs relating to the transfer decision themselves are clearly moot - procedures concerning the complaints of prison officers – amenability to judicial review - not clearly and explicitly pleaded – whether there was a breach of fair procedures - failure to provide the designated person with relevant materials – not a full investigation – inappropriate to hold designated person to standards of a full investigation - failure to await corrected minutes and response before completing report - t seeks to transpose into this preliminary phase the type of rigorous standards that might apply, for example, to the signing of a statement during an investigative process – view that the complaints were made in good faith – report not public and not binding – ten day time limit - not persuaded that the failure to comply with the 10-day time guideline for the appointment of an investigator in the circumstances of the present case should lead the Court to exercise its discretion to grant the declaration sought in this regard – claim for damages - when an invalid administrative act may sound in damages - no invalid decision by the designated person - first precondition to a claim for damages –the establishment of an unlawful and invalid decision –has not been satisfied and therefore the claim for damages must also fail – reliefs refused

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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