Tax defaulters fail to secure anonymity

AN UNIDENTIFIED man and woman failed to secure anonymity for the purpose of pursuing a High Court application to stop their names being published on a list of tax defaulters.

The man and woman, who were identified as R Doe and B Doe in papers before the court, last October made a €1.1m settlement, including penalties and interest, arising from a tax liability dating back to 2001.

It is expected they will be named on Friday when the next, Iris Oifigiúil (Irish State Gazette), is published.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Frank Clarke turned down their application to remain anonymous should they wish to pursue an injunction restraining the Revenue Commissioners from publishing their names.

They remain anonymous because their lawyers then withdrew the application for an injunction preventing their inclusion in official Government notices publication, Iris Oifigiúil, published on Tuesdays and Fridays. The Revenue was obliged to publish the names within three months of the settlement and the deadline in this case is December 31.

The plaintiffs claimed if publication went ahead, the damage to their reputations would be irreparable.

Ms Baker, for the plaintiffs, said her first application was to ask that the applicant bring the case under aliases and “in camera” so their constitutional right to privacy would be vindicated.

There was no option but for her clients to go to court to vindicate their rights but this could only be done by first having obtaining the right to anonymity.

A remedy in damages would not be adequate to vindicate that right because of the damage to reputation from publication.

The court heard they had entered into a settlement to pay €1.136m. They were then informed their identities were to be published in Iris Oifigiúil and were told the Revenue did not have any discretion on this.

Ms Baker argued the legislation does not provide for the publication of the taxpayer’s name where the penalty is less than 15% of the amount of tax paid.

There was an issue over whether the use of the word “payable” or “paid” in the legislation had a bearing on the calculation of the penalty, Ms Baker said.

Tony Collins, for the Revenue, said the constitution required that justice be done in public and even the European Convention on Human Rights did not “trump” the Constitution in that regard.

The Revenue applied for costs and the judge said he would reserve a decision on this until January 17 when he will give reasons for his decision to refuse anonymity.

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