Striking Out Groundless Proceedings

Under Order 19, Rule 28 of the Rules of the Superior Courts, the courts have jurisdiction, among other things, to strike out proceedings where the plaintiff has no reasonable cause of action. They also have an inherent jurisdiction to dismiss proceedings where they constitute an abuse of process. Both jurisdictions were addressed recently by Justice Murphy in Coleman v O'Neill 1, although the focus was on the former.


The plaintiff, a solicitor, sued the defendants, directors of a credit union, for alleged negligence, breach of duty and/or breach of fiduciary duty, in and about the granting of loan facilities to certain individuals. The plaintiff had also made allegations of fraud and misfeasance of public office and breach of duty against the defendants. The plaintiff claimed that the defendants had wrongfully accepted various written undertakings given on behalf of his firm. The defendants applied for an order, pursuant to Order 19, Rule 28 of the Rules of the Superior Courts, to strike out the proceedings on the grounds that the plaintiff had no reasonable cause of action. In the alternative, they sought an order, pursuant to the inherent jurisdiction of the court, dismissing the plaintiff's claim on the ground that his action constituted an abuse of process.

Jurisdiction of the court

Order 19, Rule 28 of the Rules of the Superior Courts provides as follows: "The Court may order any pleading to be struck out, on the ground that it discloses no reasonable cause of action or answer and in any such case or in case of the action or defence being shown by the pleadings to be frivolous or vexatious, the Court may order the action to be stayed or dismissed, or judgement to be entered accordingly, as may be just." The court acknowledged that case law provides that the jurisdiction to dismiss an action on the basis that, on admitted facts, it cannot succeed is one which the court should be slow to exercise 2. However, it did acknowledge that where the statement of claim permits an amendment which might save the action, the proceedings should not be dismissed. It further noted that in dealing with such an application, the court must be confident that, no matter what might arise in discovery or at trial, the proceedings would be resolved in a manner that would be fatal to the plaintiff's claim. Notwithstanding those precautions, however, it was well established that the court should dismiss the claim where convinced that the plaintiff's claim...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT