Michael Lowry to foot bill of tax trial

Independent TD Michael Lowry will have to foot the legal bill for the four days of a High Court hearing in which he failed to stop his trial on mainly tax-related charges.

Last February, Mr Justice Seamus Noonan rejected his judicial review challenge to his trial. He found Mr Lowry had “conspicuously declined” to engage with the €372,000 transaction of 2002 at the heart of the case.

He also disagreed with Mr Lowry’s argument a 2015 Appeal Commissioners determination of his tax appeal was a “vindication” of him in light of which continuation of the tax prosecution was oppressive.

The Appeal Commissioners found “clear evidence” Mr Lowry “misappropriated” monies of his company Garuda, he said.

The case returned before Mr Justice Noonan yesterday to deal with the issue of the legal costs of the hearing.

Patrick Treacy, counsel for Mr Lowry, asked there be no order as to costs.

Alternatively, counsel asked the judge to put a permanent stay on any costs order in the event he does not appeal the High Court decision to the Court of Appeal. .

Remy Farrell, counsel for the DPP, sought costs.

Awarding costs, Mr Justice Noonan said it was argued by Mr Treacy there should be no order on grounds including that Mr Lowry was not legally aided.

It was argued, the judge said, he faces a criminal trial in the Circuit Court on the tax charges which is expected to last at least a couple of weeks and for which there would be significant other costs.

However, the judge said, the DPP had said that if Mr Lowry was acquitted on the tax charges, he could make an application for his costs then so the issue of hardship as a result of having to pay costs did not arise, he said.

The judge also rejected arguments on behalf of Mr Lowry his position had been vindicated by a appeals commissioner who found the TD had no personal tax liability although his company did.

The argument that he might have got his costs before the appeal commissioner was not relevant because the legislature had decided the commissioner had no power to order costs.

The judge further rejected arguments relating to the time factor surrounding the judicial review challenge.

Mr Lowry had a duty to engage with the facts of his complaint and the judge had found he had not done so. That also had a bearing on the costs issue, he said.

In all the circumstances, he would not depart from the normal rule that the loser pays the costs.

He also refused to grant a permanent stay on his costs order.


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