Court rules that only a TD can legally challenge €31bn promissory note payment
Published 31/01/2013 | 18:05
A LEGAL challenge to the State's decision to pay promissory notes can only be brought by a TD, the President of the High Court has ruled.
Around €31bn has been paid to date under promissory notes in aid of Irish financial institutions.
Today Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns ruled businessman David Hall does not have the legal standing to bring such a challenge which must be taken by a member of the Dail.
Such a challenge may yet be brought as three TDS - Independents Stephen Donnelly and Shane Ross and People Before Profit's Joan Collins - had written to the Minister for Finance "threatening to vindicate their rights through the courts", he noted.
Mr Hall, who brought the case as a taxpayer and concerned citizen, is 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, he said.
The "obvious importance" of the issue raised by Mr Hall could not of itself provide him with the necessary standing and it was clear there was "no want" of persons in the Dail who could challenge the alleged failure of the Minister for Finance 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.
The central ground of Mr Hall's challenge was that the payment of the note was an "appropriation of revenue or other public moneys" within the meaning of Article 17 of the Constitution which provides no law shall be enacted for such appropriation unless the purpose of that appropriation shall have been recommended to the Dail by a message from the Government signed by the Taoiseach.
Mr Hall argued the Minister for Finance was not entitled to pay the notes unless such payment was authorised by a Dail vote. It was accepted by both sides in the case there was no such vote.
Mr Hall, College Grove, Castleknock, Dublin, a founder member of the New Beginnings group of business people and lawyers, had sought to prevent the State making payments on foot of the notes issued from March 2010 in favour of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC and the former Anglo Irish Bank), Educational Building Society and Irish Nationwide Building Society.
The Minister and State argued 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.
Deputies Donnelly, Ross, and 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.