Court Of Appeal Confirms Point Ireland Helicopters Jurisprudence

Published date23 December 2022
Subject MatterLitigation, Mediation & Arbitration, Trials & Appeals & Compensation
Law FirmWilliam Fry
AuthorMs Laura Murdock, Mollie Lenihan-McGrane and Sonja Heppner

Abbey International Finance Limited v Point Ireland Helicopters Limited [2012] 2 I.R. 694 (Point Ireland Helicopters) established that the High Court has an inherent jurisdiction to grant summary judgment in plenary proceedings, where it was satisfied that the defendant had failed to identify an arguable defence, and it was clear that the defendant had no defence. The Court of Appeal, in its recent judgment in Inland Fisheries Ireland v Ó Baoill & ors [2022] IECA 266 (Inland Fisheries Ireland), confirmed the Point Ireland Helicopters jurisprudence in this regard.

The proceedings in Inland Fisheries Ireland concerned fishing rights on the Geebarra River in Donegal. The High Court, in 2019, had granted relief to the plaintiff-respondent on foot of an application for summary judgment. The defendants-appellants appealed to the Court of Appeal (COA).

The COA noted that the conclusions reached in Point Ireland Helicopters were based on the court's inherent jurisdiction and the specific court rules applicable to cases in the Commercial List of the High Court. However, the COA was satisfied that the High Court's inherent jurisdiction applied equally to cases outside the Commercial Court. Giving judgment for the COA, Ms Justice Whelan noted that a conservative approach must be adopted by a court when considering whether to dispose of a plenary suit summarily as set out in Harrisrange Limited v Duncan [2003] 4 I.R. 1 (Harrisrange). Whelan J considered the below twelve Harrisrange factors of assistance in such an analysis;

  1. The power to grant summary judgment should be exercised with discernible caution.
  2. The court should look at the entirety of the situation and consider the particular facts of each individual case.
  3. In so doing, the court should assess not only the defendant's response, but also in the context of that response the cogency of the evidence adduced on behalf of the plaintiff being mindful at all times of the unavoidable limitations which are inherent in any conflicting Affidavit evidence.
  4. Where there are issues of simplicity or issues easily determinable, then this procedure is suitable for use.
  5. Where there are issues of fact which in themselves are material to success or failure, then their resolution is unsuitable for this procedure.
  6. Where there are issues of law, the summary process may be appropriate but only if it is clear that fuller argument and greater thought is evidently not required for a better determination of such issues.
  7. The test to be...

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