Monday 17 December 2018

Court allows Lowry appeal against huge cut in costs award

Michael Lowry. Photo: Tom Burke
Michael Lowry. Photo: Tom Burke

Tim Healy

The Court of Appeal (CoA) has allowed an appeal brought by Michael Lowry over a decision of the Moriarty Tribunal to award him only one-third of his legal costs - which he says runs into millions - over his participation in the tribunal process.

It sent the question of what the amount of those costs should be back to the tribunal for reconsideration.

The three judges, however, dismissed his appeal in relation to a specific ruling by the tribunal that he not be awarded all his costs having regard to findings of non-cooperation by him.

The High Court had dismissed his challenge to the costs decision because he engaged in "a litany of falsification and deception" in his failure to co-operate with the tribunal that was set up to inquire into payments to politicians and related matters and which sat for 15 years.

Mr Lowry appealed claiming, among other things, he was treated differently from one of the other tribunal subjects, the late former Taoiseach Charles Haughey, who was awarded his costs.

The tribunal opposed the appeal.

Yesterday's judgment was delivered by CoA President Mr Justice Sean Ryan. Ms Justice Finlay Geoghegan and Mr Justice John Edwards were in agreement.

In its general ruling on costs, the tribunal emphasised the importance of distinguishing accordingly between substantive findings and findings in regard to co-operation, Mr Justice Ryan said.

It said co-operation was confined to consideration of the clearest findings of deliberate concealment, falsification or untruth where the tribunal "is satisfied the evidence supporting the findings is beyond any doubt and where that concealment, falsification or untruth has subsequently been laid bare".

Mr Justice Ryan said he did not consider the tribunal to be in breach of fair procedure obligations in relation to its specific ruling which made findings of non-cooperation.

However, he said while he was conscious of the tribunal's observation there was no mathematical formula for the question of appropriate and just deduction of costs, it "is not clear to me why the tribunal fixed on such a very substantial reduction" (of two-thirds).

Irish Independent

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