Irish Supreme Court allows time extension for applicant to industrial schools redress scheme

The Irish Supreme Court has found ‘good and sufficient reason’ to the extend time for judicial review regarding refusal of an application to the Residential Institutions Redress Board.

The appellant was 12 years old when he was sent to an Industrial School for two years over stealing some food and a crown coin from a neighbour. The appellant was in the school from November 1962 to April 1964. Whilst there, the appellant was subject to abuse of both a physical and sexual nature by identified and named brothers and suffered from neglect and emotional abuse. According to the application, the impact of this period of abuse on adult life included periods of imprisonment, sexual dysfunction which led to the breakdown of his first marriage and his doubt as to the paternity of the children of his second marriage.

The Residential Institutions Redress Board was set up in 2002 to make financial awards to those who were abused in the Industrial Schools, a function which is carried out by Caranua. Under the legislation which established the Board, the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002, a person had to apply for redress within a three-year period before September 2005, unless there were ‘exceptional circumstances’.

The appellant did not apply for redress until 2008 and so, when the initial application was filed, it was refused on foot of delay. The appellant engaged legal representation and applied again in 2010, this time supported by evidence from a consultant psychiatrist which explained the use of repression by the appellant in order to cope with the memories of his time in care and consequences relevant to a failure to make a timely application. The Board refused the application pursuant to section 8(2) of the 2002 Act on the basis that these did not constitute ‘exceptional circumstances’.

The appellant was advised at this time that a judicial review would not succeed, however the later decision of the Court of Appeal in JMcE v The Residential Institutions Redress Board [2016] on the meaning of ‘exceptional circumstances’ gave his lawyers reason to believe a challenge was possible.  The appellant therefore did not apply to the High Court until 2016, where he was rejected as he was found not to have shown ‘good and sufficient reason’ within the meaning of Order 84 of the Superior Court Rules for the delay in seeking judicial review.

The Supreme Court found, however, that the precedent relied on in the High Court did not address the particulars of the case before it, and held that a person seeking to extend the three month period for judicial review was not in principle excluded from reliance upon the retrospective effect of a new judicial decision on the administrative decision sought to be challenged. The question therefore became whether the individual circumstances of the case constituted a ‘good and sufficient reason’.

The Court acknowledged that the delay was significant, however the reasons put forward by the appellant were sufficient and objectively justifiable. The Court also noted that proceedings were issued within a reasonable period following the judgement of the Court of Appeal. The Court had regard to the effect on the parties, which for the appellant could have had an adverse impact given the injury already sustained in the Industrial School.

The matter will now be reheard by the Board, who had agreed it would reconsider the appellant’s redress application without need for judicial review if the appeal was successful.

Click here for the judgement in O' S -v- The Residential Institutions Redress Board & ors.



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