District Court must take Lowry tax case
A district Court judge must assume jurisdiction in a tax charges case against a com- pany of former Communications Minister Michael Lowry, the High Court has ruled.
Mr Justice Seamus Noonan said Judge John O'Neill had erred when he declined jurisdiction, in May last year, to deal with summonses against Garuda Ltd, whose secretary is North Tipperary independent TD Mr Lowry.
Garuda faces three summonses for alleged offences under the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, two of which were allegedly committed in Tipperary in 2003 while the third was allegedly committed in Dublin in 2007.
On December 31, 2013, Mr Lowry signed a form for the Companies Office changing Garuda's registered address of the Gables, Torquay Road, Foxrock, Dublin, to an address at Abbey Road, Thurles, Co Tipperary.
When the case came before Dublin District Court in January 2014, Garuda argued that the company was not resident in Dublin when the case was first in court (that January) and therefore Judge O'Neill had no jurisdiction to hear the two summonses related to Tipperary.
The DPP, who was bringing the tax case, argued that Garuda's registered office was in Dublin when the summonses were issued.
It added that, in any event, one of the alleged offences related to Dublin.
Judge O'Neill said the relevant date for determining Garuda's "residence" was the date the case first came before the court (January 2014), not the date of the issue of the summons. He concluded that he had no jurisdiction to deal with the matter. The DPP then sought a High Court order quashing that decision.
Mr Justice Seamus Noonan ruled yesterday that in relation to the summonses for the two Tipperary alleged offences, the District Court Judge erred in declining jurisdiction.
In relation to the summons for the alleged Dublin offence, it was clear there was "no valid reason" for declining jurisdiction on that, even though Garuda had argued the decision in relation to that summons should not be quashed on discretionary grounds, the judge said.
Mr Justice Seamus Noonan said he did not find the reasons advanced for this to be persuasive.
He directed the District Court judge to assume jurisdiction and deal with the summonses.