High Court dismisses Saolta Group CEO's injunction preventing HSE from removing him from role

High Court dismisses Saolta Group CEO's injunction preventing HSE from removing him from role

An application by the CEO of a group that runs several public hospitals for an injunction preventing the HSE from removing him from his role has been dismissed by the High Court.

Maurice Power, who was appointed the CEO of Saolta University Health Care Group, which runs public hospitals in counties Galway, Roscommon, Mayo, Sligo and Donegal in 2014 had sought various orders preventing his removal from the post pending the outcome of his action against the HSE.

That action is pending before the Workplace Relations Commission.

Dismissing the application for an injunction Mr Justice Senan Allen said the High Court had no jurisdiction to adjudicate on the merits of Mr Power's claim against the HSE, or on what the appropriate remedy would be if he were to succeed before the bodies empowered by law to determine the dispute.

Mr Power of Moycullen, Co. Galway, had sought various orders including an injunction preventing the HSE from terminating his employment as the group's CEO.

He also sought an order preventing the HSE appointing anyone else as the group's CEO, pending the outcome of his claim before the WRC.

Mr Power claims he enjoys an entitlement to a Contract of Indefinite Duration in respect of his role, that the HSE has acted wrongfully and in breach of his contract of employment.

The action arose after the HSE embarked on a process of recruiting a CEO for the group, which has more than 10,000 staff and an annual budget of more than €850m.

Mr Power applied for the job and was called to a preliminary interview, however, he was not invited to the second round of interviews.

He appealed the decision not to include him in the second round and has also lodged a claim with the WRC.

Mr Power claimed he was wrongfully forced to apply for his own role and the recruitment process cannot be lawfully be held.

Mr Power had been the group's Chief Financial Officer before becoming the CEO.

Mr Power claimed he had been told by the HSE that he will revert back to that position, his lawyers argued that another person who has been the group's CFO has claimed that they are entitled to a Contract of Indefinite Duration in respect of that role.

The HSE argued that Mr Power does not have a Contract of Indefinite Duration for the position of the group's CEO, as claimed and had been employed as CEO on a series of fixed-term contracts.

It also argued the High Court did not have the jurisdiction to make an injunction in a case in which it has no jurisdiction to decide the substance of the dispute.

It also argued that his employment has not been terminated and that he will return to the role he previously held with the defendant prior to him taking up the role as interim CEO.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Allen agreed with the HSE's argument that the High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain this application and dismissed it.

The High Court, he added, had no inherent jurisdiction to supplement remedies made available to administrative tribunals, such as the WRC, for the enforcement of statutory rights.

Mr Power, he said, had the right to pursue his claim. The Judge said the body charged with adjudicating his claim is the body charged with deciding, if appropriate, which of the statutory remedies is appropriate.

In his view, the judge said the orders sought by Mr Power are not orders in aid of his claim before the WRC, but orders aimed at shaping the remedy which might be ordered in the event that his claim was to succeed.

The Judge also found that damages, in this case, would be an adequate remedy.

The Judge said Mr Power is not under threat of dismissal but rather will revert to his former position as CFO, which is also a well-paid job with the HSE.

The balance of convenience did not favour the granting of the orders, and that Mr Power had delayed in bringing his claim.

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