The major cases expected to come to court in Ireland in 2019
From the Quinn family to Denis O’Brien to the murder case of Anastasia Kriegal
The trial of two youths charged with the murder of 14- year- old Anastasia Kriegal is likely to one of the most high-profile cases to come before the courts in 2019. The teenager’s body was found in a disused farmhouse off the Clonee road in Lucan, Co Dublin, in May 2018. The trial is to take place before a jury in the Central Criminal Court in April and the identity of the 14- year- old boys will not be disclosed because of their age.
The trial in one of the biggest sets of proceedings to come before the Commercial Court in recent times, in terms of the amounts at issue, the legal costs involved, and the expected duration of the trial, is scheduled to begin in March.
Sean Quinn’s wife, Patricia, and mem- bers of the Quinn family are suing the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), now in liquidation, over the legality of loans issued by Anglo Irish Bank to the value of ¤ 2.34 billion. The loans were issued to companies in the Quinn Group and the bank’s security was used by Anglo to seize the Quinn businesses in 2011.
The trial could last as long as three months. It is linked to another set of proceedings, the conspiracy proceedings, which may follow the first set.
In the conspiracy proceedings IBRC is claiming that members of the Quinn family and others sought to put assets worth hundreds of millions of euro, over which Anglo had a legal charge, beyond the reach of the bank.
Another dispute that will continue before the courts next year is the one taken by the Data Protection Commissioner arising from complaints by the Austrian privacy campaigner, Max Schrems, over the sending of his personal data to the US by way of a system through which vast quantities of data are processed by US government agencies.
The High Court has sought a ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union on a number of EU Commission decisions approving the data channels. Facebook has sought to challenge the High Court’s right to seek such a ruling. The Supreme Court has said it will consider the Facebook appeal early in the new year.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to give judgments in two related cases involving the powers of the Oireachtas. The separate cases involve the former chief executive of Rehab, Angela Kerins, and the businessman Denis O’Brien, both of whom failed in the High Court when they sought sanctions against the Oireachtas.
Kerins claimed that hearings held by the Dáil Public Accounts Committee in 2014 concerning the Rehab group amounted to a witch hunt against her, and sought damages and a declaration that what happened to her was unlawful.
However the High Court ruled that the Constitution did not allow it trespass on the proceedings of the committee.
Similar issues were raised in a case taken by O’Brien who complained unsuccessfully about statements in the Dáil by deputies Catherine Murphy and Pearse Doherty about his banking affairs, after the businessman had secured a court injunction stopping RTÉ from disclosing the information.
The High Court dismissed the case saying that what was being sought was prohibited by the Constitution and would have a chilling effect on parliamentary speech.
Meanwhile O’Brien continues to press another case where he is seeking certain orders against the public affairs consultancy Red Flag.
O’Brien is alleging criminal conspiracy and defamation by the company and a number of its leading figures, in relation to a dossier that contained newspaper articles and assessments of the businessman, several of which focused on the Moriarty Tribunal.
O’Brien is alleging that Galway businessman Declan Ganley is the Red Flag client behind the dossier’s assembly. The High Court is to hear an application from Ganley in February that he be dropped from the action.
A third matter before the courts to which O’Brien is connected is the inquiry being conducted by inspectors appointed under the Companies Acts to investigate certain matters to do with Independent News & Media plc (INM), of which O’Brien is the largest shareholder.
The inspectors are scheduled to provide their first interim report to the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, in April. The investigation is into alleged scrutiny of journalists’ private data by external security consultants who were allegedly paid by a company owned by O’Brien, as well as claims that there may have been an attempt to sell radio stations belonging to O’Brien to INM, at an inflated price.
Meanwhile Graham Dwyer ( right) continues to prepare an appeal against his conviction for the murder of childcare worker Elaine O’Hara.
Data about mobile phones formed part of the evidence that led to his being found guilty and in November Dwyer won a case in the High Court where seeking certain declarations concerning Ireland’s data protection laws.
The State has yet to decide if it will ap- peal the decision. It may yet seek a stay on the declarations being finalised, pending a decision on whether to appeal or not. Meanwhile Ireland, as well as other EU states, is working on an amended data retention law that would not fall foul of the points raised by Dwyer.
Delivery of judgment is expected in the new year in a High Court case where Fidelma Kerrigan, of Benildus Avenue, Ballyshannon, Co Donegal, is suing a couple who were formerly her friends, claiming that ¤ 280,000 she gave them was a loan and not a gift, as they maintain.
Other cases to come before the courts in 2019 are the Supreme Court appeal over the proposed Apple data centre in Athenry – the court is to sit in Galway to hear the appeal – more cases arising out of the cervical cancer screening process, and proceedings to do with the European Arrest Warrant scheme as it applies to Poland and the UK.
And of course if the UK does crash out of the EU, then it is quite possible that a spike of commercial law disputes will end up in the courts. It may also transpire that international commercial disputes that formerly would have been thrashed out in London, will shift to Dublin so as to be inside the EU, thereby providing a boost to the capital’s already busy legal sector.
The trial of two youths charged with the murder of 14-year-old Anastasia Kriegal is likely to one of the most high-profile cases Denis O’Brien