The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has been given three months to reply to submissions made by the Data Protection Commission regarding the legality or otherwise of the Public Services Card.
In a brief hearing this afternoon at Dublin Circuit Civil Court, Judge Jacqueline Linnane gave the Department until January 21, 2021 to formulate its response to a 175-page affidavit filed by deputy commissioner Tony Delaney last July.
The decision means that the action by the Department - that of appealing an enforcement notice from the Commissioner to cease using the card for services other than that of Welfare amongst others - will have lasted a minimum of 14 months before the appeal proper has started.
Last week the Department had announced its intention to file a motion calling for the Commission to withdraw its affidavit due to it being overly lengthy and “inappropriate”, a course of action which the judge had stated would be unlikely to succeed.
However, the Department is set to press on with its motion.
Judge Linnane refused the Department permission to bring that motion on the next day of the action proper - instead it must be brought in advance of the trial.
The judge likewise stated that the action will not even be listed for an official hearing until the Department’s motion has either been dealt with, or abandoned.
However, the motion cannot be brought before its replying affidavit to Mr Delaney’s submission is filed.
The case is expected to be listed for mention next on a date in February of next year, with that date yet to be determined.