Call to improve court system after 83-day case

The Chief Justice has called for improvements to the way court cases are dealt with following the dismissal of an appeal over an amateur golfer’s claim that he had been falsely accused of cheating about his handicap that lasted 83 days.

Mrs Justice Susan Denham said the system would benefit from applying case management “so the best use can be made of scarce court resources for the benefit of all litigants”.

She was giving a concurring judgment with Supreme Court colleagues Peter Charleton and Adrian Hardiman in dismissing Thomas Talbot’s appeal against a High Court finding that he had not been defamed when he was sent a notice by his club referring to “handicap-building”.

Mr Talbot, representing himself, wrote to the court office saying he could not attend yesterday as a result of which the Chief Justice said the court would hand down its judgment but adjourn other issues, including costs, to later this month.

In July 2012, the High Court dismissed the retired insurance official’s action, in which he claimed defamation and conspiracy against the Hermitage Golf Club in Lucan, Dublin; one of its officers, Eddie Murphy; and the Golfing Union of Ireland.

Mr Talbot, 76, claimed a certificate sent to him in 2003 by the handicap sub-committee, stating his handicap was 13, with the words “General Play (Handicap Building)”, meant he was cheating. Mr Justice Daniel Herbert rejected claims he had been defamed and also that there had been a conspiracy against him by the club. Mr Talbot appealed the decision.

Yesterday, giving the three-judge court’s unanimous decision, Mr Justice Charleton said the conduct of Mr Justice Herbert in the High Court hearing was exemplary, that his summary of the law was unimpeachable and that his findings of fact were supported by more than ample evidence.

He said Mr Talbot had insisted on calling every witness to give evidence in the High Court, including ones who clearly were not likely to be helpful to his case.

The Supreme Court also rejected Mr Talbot’s claims of conspiracy and about the conduct of the High Court trial.


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