Tuesday 23 January 2018

State ‘will seek’ substantial legal costs against TD if appeal goes to Supreme Court

United Left Alliance TD Joan Collins
United Left Alliance TD Joan Collins

The State has made clear it will seek substantial legal costs against United Left TD Joan Collins if she appeals to the Supreme Court against the dismissal of her challenge to the issuing of €31 billion promissory notes in favour of Anglo Irish Bank and the Educational Building Society.

If Ms Collins does not appeal, the State would be "sympathetic" to her application for it to pay the costs of her High Court action on grounds of the importance of the issues raised, affecting the entire basis of the State's finances, lawyers for the State said today.

Ms Collins contends she is entitled to the High Court costs irrespective of whether or not she appeals the decision of the three judge High Court last month dismissing her case.

In seeking those costs today, her counsel John Rogers SC said the decision on costs should not be made contingent on whether or not an appeal is brought in this case of enormous public importance.

Ms Collins has 21 days to decide whether to appeal, that time had not yet expired and she was not going to "play the game" and bargain for her costs at the price of an appeal, he said.

The Supreme Court previously ruled the courts may award costs to an unsuccessful litigant where the legal issues raised are of exceptional importance, counsel said. The issues here could not be more important as the case turned on constitutional questions concerning operation of the State's finances and the process under which support was provided to the banking system.

A key issue was whether there must be an upper limit on monies appropriated from the public finances and this went to the core of the democratic order of the State, counsel added.

Michael McDowell SC, for the State, said its solicitors had written to Ms Collins earlier this week indicating, if she did not appeal, the State would be sympathethic to her costs application. When told she had not yet decided whether to appeal, the State's solicitors replied saying they were surprised and disaapointed and believed she should have decided by now.

The State had said it may seek an adjournment of the costs hearing until Ms Collins had decided the appeal issue. If she did decide to appeal, it would seek its costs against her on the basis of the normal rule that costs go to ther successful litigant.

Her case "cast a shadow" on the conduct of the State's financial affairs and it wanted "finality" on the matter, the State wrote. Its letters also referred to the financial crisis and public monies being involved in the litigation.

The three judge High Court, comprising Mr Justice Peter Kelly, Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan and Mr Justice Gerard Hogan, said it would accede to the State's suggestion to defer the decision on who pays the High Court costs until the new year, after Ms Collins had made her decision on an appeal.

The decision relating to an appeal may or may not affect the court's decision on costs, Mr Justice Kelly said.

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