Sunday 23 November 2014

Supreme Court may rule on failed 'prom note' case

Tim Healy and Colm Kelpie

Published 01/02/2013 | 05:00

THE High Court's decision to reject the legal challenge to the State paying the controversial promissory notes is to be appealed to the Supreme Court.

High Court President Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns yesterday ruled businessman David Hall did not have the legal standing to bring such a challenge, which must be taken by a member of the Dail.

Mr Hall argued that Finance Minister Michael Noonan was not entitled to pay the notes unless this had been signed off by a Dail vote. It was accepted by both sides in the case there was no such vote.

Mr Justice Kearns said Mr Hall, who brought the case as a taxpayer and concerned citizen, was no more affected by the decision to pay the notes than any other taxpayer and did not have the necessary legal standing to bring the challenge.

But Mr Hall declined to comment, other than to say he would be raising the issue with the Supreme Court today.

Mr Noonan suggested that there would be a delay in reaching a decision if the case was re-entered.

"I assume now even if it was re-entered there'd be a delay before it could reach decision point again," Mr Noonan said.

He also said that negotiations on easing the terms of the punishing promissory notes were at a crunch stage but were going to plan.

"In all negotiations the non-contentious stuff is dealt with first and then some of the difficulties are removed," he said.

"Towards the end you come down to some of the crunch issues and we're at that point now. But there's no surprise about where we are in the negotiations."

Importance

Mr Justice Kearns said the "obvious importance" of the issue raised by Mr Hall could not of itself provide him with the necessary standing needed to take the case.

And he said it was clear there was "no want" of persons in the Dail who could challenge the alleged failure of Mr Noonan to seek Dail approval for the making of the promissory notes.

Nothing in his judgment should be construed as indicating what view the court might take of the merits of the case made by Mr Hall if a challenge was brought by a member of the Dail, he also stressed.

Mr Noonan and the State argued that Mr Hall had no legal standing to make those claims and had also failed to bring the case promptly. They also denied the specific mandate of the Dail was required for the making of the notes.

Independent TDs Stephen Donnelly and Shane Ross, and People Before Profit's Joan Collins, who had supported Mr Hall's challenge, were in court yesterday when judgment was delivered.

Asked would any of them now bring a legal challenge to the notes, their solicitor Tony Williams said they would first consider the judgment.

Irish Independent

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