Businessman awarded part of legal costs in promissory notes case

Businessman David Hall has been awarded part of his legal costs for his failed challenge to the State's decision to pay promissory notes under which €31bn, to date, has been paid in aid of Irish financial institutions,

In his ruling on Thursday High Court President Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns found the businessman lacked the legal standing to bring such a challenge which would be better if it were taken by a member of the Dáil.

Mr Hall, who brought the action against the Minister for Finance and the State intends to appeal that ruling to the Supreme Court.

Today the case, which was heard over four days, returned before Mr Justice Kearns for a determination as to who would pay the legal costs of the action.

Mr Justice Kearns ruled that Mr Hall was entitled to the cost of two of those days. The State he ruled was entitled to one of the day's costs, while the sides were to pay their own costs for the remaining day.

The Judge said while he had ruled against Mr Hall on the grounds he lacked legal standing, that particular argument, raised by the State in its defence should have been argued as a preliminary or discrete, stand alone issue.

Such a move the court held would have saved time and expense, the Judge added.

Both sides had sought their costs. John Rogers SC for Mr Hall had argued that the court should use its discretion in regards to the costs of the action given that Mr Hall had raised a novel issue of significant important. There could be not doubting Mr Hall's bona fides, counsel added.

Michael McDowell SC for the State said his client should not have to bear the costs of the action it had won. Counsel said the defendants raised the legal standing argument as its first ground of defence, and had cross examined Mr Hall solely on that point during the hearing.

Counsel excepted the action was not severed so the issue of legal standing could be argued as a discrete issue. It was not always the case that severing a separate point outside the main hearing would always save the court time and expense, counsel added

Mr Hall, College Grove, Castleknock, Dublin, a founder member of the New Beginning 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.

He argued 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 Dáil by a message from the Government signed by the Taoiseach.

He argued the Minister for Finance was not entitled to pay the notes unless such payment was authorised by a Dáil vote. It was accepted by both sides in the case there was no such vote.

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 Dáil was required for the making of the notes.

However the Judge ruled Mr Hall 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.

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 Dáil, he also stressed.

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