Gemma O'Doherty and John Waters face 'five-figure' legal bill after lockdown legal challenge

Gemma O'Doherty and John Waters are now facing an expected five-figure legal bill after the High Court ruled they must pay the costs of their failed attempt to challenge the Covid-19 laws.
Gemma O'Doherty and John Waters face 'five-figure' legal bill after lockdown legal challenge
John Waters and Gemma O'Doherty claimed the Covid-19 laws are unconstitutional. Pic: Collins

Gemma O'Doherty and John Waters are now facing an expected five-figure legal bill after the High Court ruled they must pay the costs of their failed attempt to challenge the Covid-19 laws.

In a ruling this morning, Mr Justice Charles Meenan said the pair should pay the legal costs of both the State respondents and the notice parties, the Dáil, Seanad and the Ceann Comhairle.

The legal costs bill is expected to be a five-figure sum.

The judge said that the costs should be limited to the two-day hearing of their application only.

Last month the court refused to grant the pair permission to have their judicial review challenge against the laws go to a full hearing.

Mr Waters and Ms O'Doherty, who claimed the laws are unconstitutional, are appealing the dismissal of their action to the Court of Appeal.

Mr Justice Meenan said Mr Waters and Ms O’Doherty did not engage with the case being made by the respondents and the Oireachtas “in any meaningful way".

"Rather, they proceeded with the application on the basis that as they were of the opinion they had an arguable case, this, of itself, was sufficient for the court to grant them leave," the judge said.

"There is no doubt but that issues raised by the widespread restrictions imposed by the legislation and regulations in question are important matters of public interest

However, the manner in which Mr Waters and Ms O’Doherty conducted their proceedings, their failure to consider or answer the case being made against them and to only have regard to their own opinions meant that these proceedings were far from being in the public interest.

Last month, the court refused to grant the pair permission to have their judicial review challenge against the laws go to a full hearing.

On that occasion dismissing their application, the judge said they had not provided the court with any expert evidence or facts to support their view that the laws challenged by the applicants were disproportionate or unconstitutional.

The laws brought in by the State to help deal with the pandemic, he said in his judgment, were “constitutionally permissible”. He also found the case was unstateable.

The applicants, he said, who had “no medical or scientific qualifications or expertise relied on their own unsubstantiated views, gave speeches, engaged in empty rhetoric and sought to draw parallels to Nazi Germany which is both absurd and offensive”.

“Unsubstantiated opinions, speeches, empty rhetoric and a bogus historical parallel are not a substitute for facts,” he added.

More in this section

Lunchtime News Wrap

A lunchtime summary of content highlights on the Irish Examiner website. Delivered at 1pm each day.

Sign up