Republic of Ireland
Where even a favourable outcome to the Applicant would have provided no practical assistance to him, the High Court dismissed judicial review proceedings as moot.
The Applicant was an infant born in Ireland to a Ukrainian mother and an Estonian father. The Applicant's mother and next friend sought the surrender of the Applicant's passport by the Applicant's father. She was concerned that the Applicant's father would seek to remove the Applicant from the State without her consent.
On the morning which the matter was to be heard, the registrar informed the Applicant's mother that the matter would not be heard by the Court. This was because the application had not been served on the Applicant's father. Subsequently, the Court granted an injunction which restrained the Applicant's father from removing the child from the State and the Applicant's passport was surrendered to the child's mother. The Applicant sought to judicially review the initial refusal of the Courts Service to allow the matter to proceed. The Courts Service argued that the issue was now moot.
The High Court held that the issue was moot and that determination of the issues raised would confer no practical benefit on the Applicant.
Irish courts have followed the US practice of allowing cases to proceed which may have ramifications for future litigants, even though they might be considered moot. The starting point for consideration of mootness was a consideration of whether the matter "is still alive in any meaningful sense...(or)... purely hypothetical or academic". It may be appropriate to proceed to consider moot points in limited circumstances, see Crilly -v- TJ Farrington Ltd and O'Brien v. The Personal Injuries Assessment Board, where the same issue remained live from the Respondent's perspective.
A determination in favour of the Applicant would confer no practical benefit on him and there was such a remote chance of the same issues arising between the parties, consideration of the issues was not required.
Points of Note
The correct test to apply was whether an issue was "capable of repetition yet evading review", in which case there may be merit in considering a moot issue.