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Judge refuses disclosure application of Dáil records made by former Rehab chief executive

By August 29, 2022 No Comments

A High Court judge has refused the former CEO of Rehab, Angela Kerins’ application for the disclosure of Dáil records in relation to her claim for damages against Dáil Éireann.

Discovery request

Ms Kerins claimed in the preliminary application for discovery that she required certain committee documents to establish her case against Dáil Éireann. She sought minutes of meetings and members’ private papers.

2014 hearing before the Committee

In 2014, Ms Kerins was called before a Dáil Public Accounts Committee to answer questions about her salary of €240,000. She alleges in her claim before the courts that she had been effectively subjected to a ‘witch-hunt’. She states that as a result of these actions, she considered taking her own life.

The Committee has denied that she was subject to any kind of ‘witch-hunt’ and that it was entitled to ask the questions it did, primarily because the Rehab organisation was in receipt of funding from the State.

The Supreme Court has already ruled on part of the case. In 2019, it decided that the Committee had acted unlawfully in asking certain questions, which went beyond the remit of the invitation sent to Ms Kerins. The Supreme Court decide the case in full, only a module of the case. It has now reverted to High Court for the next part of the case, whether she is entitled to damages. The preliminary application for discovery was made in the context of the second module of the case.

Discovery refused

In declining to grant Ms Kerins’ application for discovery, Mr Justice Owens of the High Court held that article 15 of the Constitution applied to the records sought. These documents were official documents and private papers of members of the Dáil. According to the Constitution, only the Houses of Oireachtas can regulate the speech of members, and not the courts. Therefore, the judge determined, he could not order the disclosure sought.

The substantive case is still to be heard by the High Court.

*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.*

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