Private nursing homes claim their individual residents have to be served with papers in appeals relating to commercial rate valuations on grounds that they must be treated as "occupiers" of the homes, the High Court heard.
The court heard nine nursing homes are challenging a refusal to provide for service of the papers on up their 782 individual residents.
The challenge could have implications for the ability of the Commissioner of Valuation to deal with valuations, it is claimed.
The Commissioner heads the Valuation Office which provides up-to-date valuations and revaluations of commercial properties, by reference to rental values, for ratepayers and for local authorities who collect the rates.
The Commissioner asked the court to join him as a notice party in the case being brought by the nursing homes against the Valuation Tribunal which hears appeals of the Commissioner's valuation decisions.
The nursing homes opposed the application to join the Commissioner.
Today, Mr Justice Charles Meenan reserved his decision.
The court heard the nursing homes' judicial review challenge is solely over the refusal of the Valuation Tribunal to serve nursing home residents with papers in relation to appeals brought by the nine nursing homes over their rate valuations.
The nursing homes are: Flanagans Nursing Home, Stanford Woods Care Centre, Brindley Manor Federation of Nursing Homes, Ryevale Nursing Home (Kildare), Larchfield Nursing Homes, Passage Healthcare International (Ireland) TLC Nursing Home, TLC Health Services and nursing home proprietor Garry Gavigan.
'Occupiers' of their homes
They want the High Court to determine whether the Valuation Tribunal was correct in law to refuse to serve on their residents papers relating to the valuation appeal on the basis that they are "occupiers" of the homes under the Valuation Act 2001.
During a hearing before the Tribunal, the Valuation Commissioner argued they should not and he says the Tribunal was correct in its refusal decision.
However, the Commissioner says he should be joined as a notice party in the nursing homes' High Court challenge because he is directly affected by any determination the court will make.
In submissions on behalf of the Commissioner, David Dodd BL argued that if the nursing homes win their case his client would be faced with having to serve draft valuations on each and every resident on the basis that, as occupiers, they have to be given an opportunity to be heard and their procedural rights have to be observed.
Commissioner would have to deal with individuals, not with nursing homes
It would mean that instead of dealing with nine individual nursing homes, the Commissioner would have to deal with 782 residents individually, it is claimed.
If two hours was allocated to each individual case, it would take a full year, sitting through the weekends, to deal with each of those 782 people, counsel said.
This was in circumstances where there are issues as to mental capacity of some residents as well as who would be liable for the costs of such hearings.
Ciaran Craven SC, for the nursing homes, said the issue of who is affected by the court's decision was a matter for the Tribunal which is the competent and lawful contradictor to the challenge.
The nursing homes also argued, in their submissions, the Commissioner would not be competent to tell the court how the Tribunal arrived at its decision.