Judgment Title: Doherty -v- MJELR & Ors
Composition of Court:
Judgment by: McGovern J.
Status of Judgment: Approved
Neutral Citation Number:  IEHC 246
THE HIGH COURT
2007 9400 P
THE MINISTER FOR JUSTICE, EQUALITY AND LAW REFORM AND
JOHN HEDIGAN OF THE EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND
JOHN L. MURRAY OF THE SUPREME COURT AND
JOSEPH FINNEGAN OF THE SUPREME COURT AND
RICHARD JOHNSON OF THE HIGH COURT AND
PAUL CARNEY OF THE HIGH COURT AND
KEVIN O’HIGGINS OF THE HIGH COURT AND
FREDERICK MORRIS OF THE HIGH COURT AND
MATTHEW DEERY OF THE CIRCUIT COURT AND
MICHAEL WHITE OF THE CIRCUIT COURT AND
JOSEPH MATTHEWS OF THE CIRCUIT COURT AND
MIRIAM MALONE OF THE DISTRICT COURT AND
JOHN O’DONNELL OF THE DISTRICT COURT AND
TOM FITZPATRICK OF THE DISTRICT COURT AND
SEAN MCBRIDE OF THE DISTRICT COURT AND
ANNIE MCGINLEY, ASSISTANT COUNTY REGISTRAR FOR COUNTY DONEGAL AND
GERALDINE O’CONNOR, REGISTRAR FOR COUNTY DONEGAL, AND
VAL CRONIN OF THE DISTRICT COURT IN DONEGAL AND
THE LAND REGISTRY AND
THE BAR COUNCIL OF IRELAND AND
THE LAW SOCIETY OF IRELAND
THE COMMISSIONER OF AN GARDA SIOCHÁNA AND
CATHERINE CLANCY AND
NOEL V. WHITE AND
THE CRIMINAL ASSETS BUREAU AND
THE GARDA OMBUDSMAN AND
JOHN LONERGAN AND
DAN SCANNELL AND
TONY KILBANE AND
THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS AND
THE COURTS SERVICE AND
THE MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE AND
MARTINA KEARNEY AND
KIERAN LYNCH AND
THE MINISTER FOR FINANCE AND
LIAM IRWIN AND
ANN HERRITY AND
KIERAN O’CONNELL AND
BERTIE AHERN AND
JAMES MCDAID AND
CECELIA KEAVENEY AND
THE IRISH HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
JUDGMENT of Mr. Justice Brian McGovern delivered on the 15th day of May 2009
1. The plaintiff has sued the numerous defendants in this action and sets out his claims in a statement of claim running to some thirty pages. I have been informed that his action against the following defendants has been struck out or discontinued: The Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Hugh Orde, The Rev. Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness. The remaining defendants have brought motions to strike out the plaintiff’s statement of claim. The applications are grounded upon O. 19, r. 27 of the Rules of the Superior Courts and/or the inherent jurisdiction of the court on the grounds that the statement of claim is prolix and/or contains pleadings which are unnecessary or scandalous but which may tend to prejudice, embarrass or delay the fair trial of this action; an order pursuant to O. 19, r. 28 of the Rules of the Superior Courts and/or the inherent jurisdiction of the court striking out the plaintiff’s statement of claim and/or these proceedings on the grounds that they are vexatious and/or that the statement of claim discloses no reasonable cause of action; an order striking out those parts of the plaintiff’s claim against the first to the fifteenth named defendants as relate to their actions as judges on the ground that same disclose no reasonable cause of action as the said claims are made in respect of acts of the said defendants in the exercise of their jurisdiction.
2. The plaintiff, for his part, has brought motions for judgment in default of defence against the defendants. When the motions came on for hearing before me, I adjourned the motions for judgment in default of defence pending the outcome of the defendants’ application to strike out the statement of claim and/or the proceedings.
3. The statement of claim in this case is extraordinary in a number of respects. In the first place, it names an exceptionally large number of defendants. Secondly, the claims made by the plaintiff in the document are wide-ranging and disconnected.
4. A clue as to the purpose of the proceedings can be found in the affidavit sworn by the plaintiff on 21st April, 2009, for the purpose of opposing the application to strike out the statement of claim and/or dismiss his action. Paragraph 2 of that affidavit reads as follows:
3. this High Court Action is a bona fide action by me to expose serious wrongdoing and is in no way vexatious and frivolous.”
7. I have already referred to the fact that the statement of claim is long and wide-ranging and I do not propose to quote from it in this judgment. A reading of the document shows that it contains a diatribe against various judges and the justice system in general, together with other complaints against various officials and bodies for not doing their duty, for not acceding to requests of the plaintiff, for ignoring complaints of the plaintiff and for acting corruptly or facilitating corruption. Many of the complaints made by the plaintiff concern events in which he was not even involved. Others involve outrageous and wild accusations about judges and other officials in the manner in which they carried out their duties.
8. All of the defendants have made submissions, and a substantial number of the defendants have put in written submissions referring to the case law applicable to the issues which arise in this case. The plaintiff has not put in any written submissions and has not relied on any legal authority in resisting the application of the defendants. I accept the legal submissions made on behalf of the defendants. Insofar as the plaintiff makes accusations and claims against members of the judiciary and other statutory bodies acting bona fide within their jurisdiction, as they enjoy an immunity from action in negligence, they are immune from suit. See Beatty J. in Rent Tribunal  2 IR 191. The plaintiff conceded that he never brought judicial review applications in respect of any of the defendants. Insofar as he criticises members of the judiciary and other public officials for corrupt or dishonest actions or practices or collusion in such practices, his claims are bound to fail unless he can show that they were not acting bona fide within their jurisdiction as they enjoy an immunity from action in negligence. While I appreciate the plaintiff, in this case ,suggests that in certain instances the judges or other officials may not have been acting bona fide in the exercise of their duties, many of the complaints are anecdotal in nature and are, in my view, an abuse of process because they are brought for an improper or ulterior purpose, which is to cause embarrassment and vexation to the defendants and they do not fit within the rubric of inter partes disputes which are justiciable. In many cases, the plaintiff was not personally affected by the actions of which he complains. The remedy of judicial review is there for persons who have genuine complaints about the manner in which public officials exercise their powers. For example, if they act ultra vires or in breach of natural or constitutional justice or fail to carry out their duties towards the plaintiff, such actions are amenable to judicial review and the reliefs of certiorari, mandamus and prohibition are available. But the courts do not exist for the purpose of facilitating individuals to vent their displeasure, and even their anger, at the manner in which public officials carry out their duties.
9. Many of the claims made in the statement of claim are vague and imprecise. The complaints are numerous and unconnected with each other, save for general complaints about various defendants failing to carry out their duties properly and acting in a corrupt manner or facilitating corruption.
10. On any reading of the statement of claim, the allegations can only be viewed as scandalous or vexatious. See Riordan v. Hamilton and Ors.  IEHC 189 (Unreported), Riordan v. Ireland (5)  4 I.R. 463. See also Faye v. Tegral Pipes Ltd.  2 IR 261, where McCracken J. stated at p. 266:
12. To permit the plaintiff’s action to proceed would be to allow a parody of justice to take place. The claims which he makes are so outrageous and so varied, and the number of defendants so large, that it would be quite impossible to conduct an orderly trial of the issues which he raises. In Hanly v. News Group Newspapers Ltd.  1 I.R. 472, at 475, Smyth J. stated:
14. Where the extent of the scandalous or vexatious pleading is sufficiently gross and extensive, it seems to me that it is not the function of the court to sift through the material in the statement of claim to see if, perhaps, somewhere within it, a claim can be found in the proper form. The court is entitled to have regard to the document as a whole. There might well be cases where there is an isolated pleading here or there which may be scandalous or vexatious, but the greater part of the document contains pleadings in a proper form. In those cases, the courts can strike out the offending portions of the pleadings. But that is not the case here. This statement of claim is, in fact, a narrative of the plaintiff’s complaints about the judiciary, various public officials and the justice system in general. In the words of Henchy J. in Cahill v. Sutton  I.R. 269 at 286:
15. I am quite satisfied that this statement of claim, considered in its entirety, is a document which discloses no reasonable cause of action and is prolix, scandalous, vexatious and an abuse of process. Accordingly, I will direct that the statement of claim be struck out.