Claims against Gardaí of defamation and negligent misstatement were bound to fail

James Cross BL, 29 November 2019 (© Decisis)

December 3, 2019

Griffin v Walsh [2018] IEHC 838

 

Judgment of O’Connor J, delivered 26 January 2018:

High Court: (a) grants an order strike out the plaintiff’s claims of defamation and negligent misstatement against An Garda Siochána, on the grounds that they were bound to fail; and (b) stays the plaintiff’s claim in relation to malicious prosecution until after the plaintiff exhausts all avenues open to him to enlarge the time to appeal and prosecute any such appeal if he is allowed to do so.

Application to dismiss or strike out the plaintiff’s claim on the grounds that the statement of claim: discloses no reasonable cause of action, is frivolous and/or vexatious, is unsustainable and bound to fail – plaintiff arrested and charged with criminal damage – allegations in the statement of claim - a bag and tools were inspected - plaintiff using tools on the clamp chains - court should consider the pleadings and ignore affidavit evidence filed – malicious prosecution - right to clamp and exhibited the authorisation of the entity which clamped - well settled that in order to be actionable, a claim for malicious prosecution must involve the institution of unsuccessful criminal proceedings by a defendant maliciously and without reasonable and probable cause as a result of which the plaintiff has suffered damage – conviction not overturned - claim will fail if he proceeds without having the conviction overturned or set aside – stay the claim in relation to malicious prosecution until after he exhausts all avenues open to him to enlarge the time to appeal and prosecute any such appeal if he is allowed to do so – defamation - defence to a defamation action where a statement is made at trial by a party, witness or legal representative in proceedings presided over by a judge - bound to fail in relation to his claim for defamation against the defendants for statements made at his prosecution in the District Court – deficient pleadings - negligent misstatement – plaintiff would have to show that the plaintiff himself who claims that he is the injured party relied on the statements of the first named defendant Garda - will only succeed where it relates to economic loss – not medical expenses and fines - bound to fail – allegations of defamation and negligent misstatement struck out.

 

Quotation from judgment (courtesy of the Courts Service of Ireland):

‘The plaintiff in his submissions suggested that the District Court and the Circuit Court are not courts which could apply the provisions of the Constitution or the European Convention on Human Rights (“the Convention”). This is incorrect. Courts are provided for by statute and are bound by the provisions of the Constitution and the Convention. The plaintiff has not challenged the constitutionality of any section of the Defamation Act 2009 or alleged incompatibility of that Act with the Convention in these proceedings. Such a challenge must comply with the rules provided for seeking that type of relief. Therefore, the plaintiff is bound to fail in relation to his claim for defamation against the defendants for statements made at his prosecution in the District Court because the defendants have informed this Court and the plaintiff that that provision is relied upon and will be relied upon. As for the claim in respect of the conversation with the neighbour called Joyce, the first named defendant Garda was fulfilling his duties to furnish a copy of what the plaintiff calls the “Garry Doyle Disclosure”.’

Full judgment.

 

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.

 

Key Cases Cited:

Barry v Buckley [1981] IR 306 at 308

Farley v Ireland (ex tempore judgment, unreported, Supreme Court, 1997)

Dorene Ltd v Suede (Ireland) Ltd [1981] IR 312 at 315