24th May 2022
While we may be coming to the end of the Zoom era, questions keep coming on Highland Radio and this morning was no exception.
The broadcast opened with the showbiz Trial in Fairfax County between Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard being highlighted by our contributor Seamus Gunn who explained how high the stakes were for Johnny Depp and any future career he might hope to pursue on the big screen. He thought that it beggars belief that he would repeat the Trial which had already been run in the UK Courts when he was unsuccessful some 2 years ago after similar allegations were published in the Sun that labelled Depp as a “Wife Beater”. He said in Fairfax County Depp was suing Heard for 50 Million, while she was counter claiming for 100 Million. Seamus Gunn was of the view that money aside, it was the reputational damage that was going to be the big fallout from the case. He said he thought that while Amber Heard may have more time on her side to rebuild her reputation, time may not be so kind to Johnny Depp who is in his late 50s and who already had a follow up to the Pirates of the Caribbean put on hold as a result of liable actions being pursued. Our contributor was of the view that Amber Heard had some credibility in that the allegations of physical abuse did ring true and that she was found to be credible in the English Courts. Therefore, if the same result followed it could be a costly course to pursue for Depp. He was firmly of the view that this was an action that should not have got into the public domain and should have been sorted between the parties.
This case which has caught the imagination of the US public is continuing and shall be played out further over the coming weeks.
One of the busiest Q&As followed with the very interesting take on the Roe V Wade 1973 case and the leaked Supreme Court draft decision earlier this week. All can be listened to online.
20th April 2022
The show kicked off this morning by way of a telephone link. The challenge which commenced in the High Court midweek against the Judicial Council’s adoption of the Personal Injury guidelines was highlighted as having potentially serious implications for the public and the insurance industry. Our contributor Seamus Gunn explained with the introduction of PIAB in 2003, the emphasis was on trying to bring some certainty to awards and to reduce legal fees in respect of the pursuit of such claims. He said that the case in point was being brought by a lady in Dungarvan as a result of a fractured bone in her ankle and that while the accident occurred prior to March 2021, it was not assessed until the new guidelines were in place. He explained that under the old system she could have expected General Damages of € 18,000.00 – € 25,000.00 in respect of such an injury, but that the award came in at € 3,000.00 and was obviously going to be challenged. He said that it would be interesting to see how this was going to play out as the very purpose for which the Injuries Board was set up would now be frustrated as all such claims would likely go down the Judicial route, therefore adding significantly to legal costs as it was highly unlikely that such awards would be accepted. He said that PIAB and the book of quantum had been working adequately and that 70 – 80% of claims were being dealt with at this level. A lot of interested parties will be awaiting the outcome of this case.
The collapsing of the 2020 Health Act was discussed by our contributor Seamus Gunn, who explained that the purpose of the legislation was for the preservation and protection of the public health and to allow the Minister for Health to introduce appropriate measures to curtail the spread of Covid 19. He said that it had already been extended in 2021 and he thought that it beggared belief that it was not extended for a further period in light of the escalating Covid figures in recent weeks. He referenced Shanghai with a population of 26 million at 50% lockdown, with a minute number of symptomatic cases which were non comparable to the figures in the island of Ireland, averaging at 12,000 per day. He said that the WHO spokesperson Dr. Mike Ryan stated that Covid 19 remains an acute global emergency. He said that while it may not be envisaged that the emergency powers would be needed and at least this was the aspiration, it was best to have the legislation in place. Greg Hughes was of the opinion that the public may not buy into any further restrictions. Seamus Gunn said that this could be the difficulty in trying to reintroduce such measures with the change in sentiment.
The Q&A that followed ranged from the Succession Act to the tricky subject of Separation and can be listened to online.
4th April 2022
On the show this morning our contributor Seamus Gunn addressed the developments in the USA when he reviewed the latest sequel in the select committees’ pursuit of ex-US president Donald Trump. He referenced the show on the 10th of December 2021 in relation to Mark Meadows refusing to appear before the committee, who continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the riot which resulted in 5 deaths. Having said that, they have now gained access to records, documents and memos of the ex-president leading up to the 6th of January 2021 and they are now pursuing the matter in Los Angeles as the committee is considering passing along evidence of alleged criminal conduct by Mr. Trump to the US Justice Department. He said that the claim being advanced was that Mr. Trump and others engaged in criminal and/or fraudulent acts and also a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States. He said that the focus was now on John Eastman, a lawyer, who was responsible for the strategy to overturn the election results. He said that the privilege point had not been accepted and that if there was a criminal referral, this would result in the Attorney General having to consider charging the former president, which would be a first. He said that while Mr. Trump was continuing to fight on, he was now being pursued on 2 fronts in a pincer movement between New York and LA, and that the net was closing ever so slowly. As predicted in December, this story continues to gain traction and will likely be revisited.
Once again, the Q&A from the listeners touched on a number of legal headings and can be listened to below.
24th January 2022
No sooner has one year ended than a new one begins with another lively virtual broadcast with Seamus Gunn on the Greg Hughes show. The opening topic was the highlighting of the Pat Hickey ticket touting case from Brazil which was in the headlines midweek with 3 of the charges being dropped against Pat Hickey, Kevin Mallon, and Barbara Carnieri. Our contributor pointed out that the matter dated back to 2016 when there was a media frenzy around the arrest of Pat Hickey who was then the President of the Olympic Council or Ireland under an allegation of ticket touting together with his co-accused Kevin Mallon and Barbara Carnieri. Seamus Gunn made the point that the decision had been published as far back as the 18th of October 2021 but had only now come into the public domain in Ireland. He said that the unusual expression of “extinction of punishabality” was the justification for the dropping of 3 charges which he said were more minor to the more significant charges which carried penalties of 3-8 years imprisonment. He explained that the charges relating to the use of the logo, tax evasion and personal selling of tickets were all discarded. He made the point that this matter has been trundling along for upwards of 6 years, he expressed some doubt as to whether there was an appetite to see the prosecutions through. Meanwhile Pat Hickey has a bail bond of € 410,000.00. In relation to the accused’s appearing in Court, he said that if they had to appear in person there was to be an 8-month notice period. He said that in such circumstances in this jurisdiction where one’s liberty was at risk; the accused would be in Court. He said that it was recognised that the Courts had an obligation to ensure litigation is concluded in a timely manner which was far from the case in these prosecutions. He explained that the more serious charges of organising the ticket sales together with the larceny charge remained with criminal organisation charges and that these would now have to be addressed and a date set for hearing, which had not occurred. It was likely that this case shall be revisited in the coming year.
The Q&A session that followed can be listened to below.
24th January 2022
On the final show of 2021 the storming of Capitol Hill on the 6th of January was again highlighted in the context of former chief of staff Mark Meadow’s refusal to appear before the select committee investigating the circumstances surrounding the riot which resulted in the deaths of 5 people and in particular the role, if any, of the ex-president Donald Trump therein. Our contributor Seamus Gunn highlighted that it should not be forgotten that 5 people lost their lives as a result and that a further 4 first responders took their own lives in the months that followed. He said that there had been a decision by a federal Judge in Colombia last month in favor of the select committee gaining access to records, documents and memos of the ex-president leading up to the 6th of January 2021 which has now been appealed to the US Court of Appeal for the District Circuit of Colombia. Greg Hughes thought that it was politics that was playing out and he wondered whether anything would come of it. Seamus Gunn was of the view that while politics did play a role, the investigation had to take its course and evidence; documents, memos, records, texts, emails, etc. would have to be accessed by the select committee. He said that while the speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi was a Democrat, it was interesting the Vice Chair Liz Cheney is a Republican. He thought that this story was going to gain traction in the New Year as the ex-president would circle the wagons, he was urging associates not to cooperate, while the select committee were for proceeding and that they would likely instigate a criminal contempt charge against Mark Meadows for his refusal to cooperate and attend for the purpose of giving a deposition.
One of the most varied Q&A of the year followed, listen to the full interview below.
24th January 2022
Today’s show began with the very interesting case of an American couple suing a fertility clinic in respect of the implantation of a stranger’s embryo which resulted in 2 couples carrying each other’s embryo for the term. Seamus Gunn explained the proceedings now being taken, he said he believed that negligence could be proven and was established by the follow up investigation, but he had some reservations about the level of damages such an action would attract. He said that the couple were seeking damages under a number of headings which included emotional damages and property damages. He said that one could take the view that once the position was remedied and the parents had now the correct baby, that they could in time look back on it positively in that the bonding that was established for the first number of months in respect of another person’s baby, may last the test of time. He compared the situation to a fertility clinic providing both sperm and egg to strangers to be carried for a full term by the mother after implantation and that the child was no less cherished. He thought that there would be some form of monetary compensation as costs could have been incurred as a result of the mistake, initially by way of custody applications and likely Court Orders which could be payable by the clinic. He said that he understood that it had arisen as a result of one doctor dealing with 2 clinics to which he was associated. He made the point in relation to damages that if he was defending the case, he would be highlighting what is reported, that Daphna Cardinale was uneasy from the outset, immediately after the birth as she did not recognise the baby and thought that her complexion was darker. Our contributor said that he thought that this was the time to call for a DNA test to establish the position and the mistake could have then been addressed. Greg Hughes thought that it was a difficult situation for the mum and said that he was not sure how he would react. SG explained the claim for emotional damages, in similar terms to post-traumatic stress disorder in this jurisdiction and the claims that arise under this heading. He was of the view that while the couple were entitled to take the claim, that it may be better settled out of court as it was basically an assessment case, while he had some reservations as to the extent of the damages the Court would award.
Listen to the Q&A that followed online.
24th January 2022
On a busy beginning to October the virtual show kicked off with a case in the headline’s midweek from Germany where the Trial of Irmgard Furchner, a 96-year-old former Nazi death camp secretary was to commence before a youth court in Hamburg, the accused failing to show up at court on the first day. The Question of Justice being served was addressed by Seamus Gunn this morning who had misgivings about the Trial proceeding in its present format. He made the point that while there were 10,000 murders at this camp, outside Gdansk, that the lady before the court, was a secretary and acting under orders at the time. It was questionable as to what knowledge she would have had of the events or what responsibility, if any, she had for them. He explained the requirements for a murder charge and the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt and that Men’s Rea and Actus Reus had to be proven against the accused. He said that up to 2011 it was virtually impossible to bring such charges before a court, the Proofs required for a Murder conviction in the federal Republic of Germany in respect of War crimes were that the specific crime had to be alleged, a specific victim had to be identified and it also had to be proven that the crime was motivated by racial hatred. He said that with the passing of time that this became virtually impossible but that after the conviction of a concentration camp guard in 2011, they had adopted a policy that persons who were accessories could be brought before the court to account. He said that he anticipated that there would be a robust Defence when this matter went to Trial. He accepted the point that time did not frustrate the investigation of a crime and the matter being brought to Trial but that it was questionable whether Justice was being served in this case when the Burden of Proof had been changed. Gregg Hughes made the comparison to Irish Courts and three Judge Courts presiding over a specific type of cases, but our contributor said that regardless, that the Burden of Proof remained the same and that it was a high threshold that had to be met. He said that there was also the very practical point that time was moving and would run out.
The Britney Spears conservatorship was then discussed in the context of a Wardship Application in Ireland, Seamus Gunn being of the opinion that the Draconian measures and the manner in which the conservatorship was handled in the USA would not occur in this jurisdiction due to the accountability regime in place in the High Court in respect of Wardship cases. He was of the view that this matter would garner a lot more publicity and be a source of further proceedings before it ended but that finally Britney Spears was on the right road to regain her freedom.
The Full Broadcast can be listened to below including the Q & A that followed.
24th January 2022
The first Zoom show following the summer break kicked off today hosted by Donal Kavanagh when the case of the record fine of € 225 Million being imposed by the Data Protection Commission on WhatsApp Ireland was reviewed. Seamus Gunn was of the opinion that it was interesting on 2 fronts, that it was the highest fine ever imposed by the Data Protection Commission in this country, following a fine of € 450,000.00 imposed on Twitter in December last year and secondly that the fine had been upped from a proposed € 50 Million to the figure of € 225 Million after it had been referred to the European Data Protection Board (EDPB). He said that it was interesting that WhatsApp had set aside a substantial sum of € 77.5 Million to meet the complaint which was nearly trebled with the fine. He said that he thought it likely that the matter would be appealed and that if so in this jurisdiction, to the High Court or to the European Court. He said that in light of the fact that Amazon had been fined € 746 Million by Luxembourg in the summer that there was an emphasis on upping the penalties for these types of multinationals that were found to be in breach of data protection processing, he was not confident that such an appeal would change or reduce the fine. He said that on a positive note that the fine was payable to the exchequer of the country in which it is levied, hence Ireland would reap the benefit. It would also set a precedent for future breaches and penalties to be imposed as the European Data Protection Board had referred the matter back to the Irish Commissioner as they considered the proposed fine for € 50 Million to be inadequate. There are also remedial actions required by WhatsApp. Until such time as the appeal has been determined the matter shall remain ongoing, but our contributor was not optimistic about a positive outcome for the Appellant.
A typical diverse Q & A followed. Listen to the full interview below.
3rd August 2021
The highlighted topic this morning was the government approved legislation to clarify the situation around outdoor drinking. Seamus Gunn was not impressed at the manner in which this became an issue stating that outdoor eating was promoted, advertised and supported by government over an extended period and yet they did not foresee the difficulty with the Licensing Laws that in the majority of situations the license did not extend to the outdoor area being used for the consumption of alcohol. He referenced the point that the area in which the alcohol would be consumed should be in accordance with the licensing map which he said would usually incorporate the premises and in certain situations outdoor areas but not public footpaths as these were under the control of the local authorities. He foreseen a difficulty with insurance indemnity in respect of issues that may arise outside of the premises and in particular cover for such activity. He strongly recommended that proprietors should confirm cover with their insurers. Gregg Hughes highlighted an example where an incident such as a fight could arise outside of a premises at these locations and in particular the insurance implications.
Seamus Gunn stressed that the bill came before cabinet at the beginning of the week and was yet to be passed into law but was expected. He was not impressed with the matter being left to the Gardai to apply discretion. He said that proprietors were trying to do their best in very difficult circumstances and were acting in good faith and were likely to have complied with the street furniture regulations. He said that the licensing legislation was a labyrinth of acts going back to the late 19th century and recently updated in 2000. They were quite clear in defining the licensed area and at all times it was foreseeable that this issue was going to arise, and legislation should have been addressed before now.
One of our most varied Q & A to date this year then followed.
Listen to the full interview below:
Part 1 –
Part 2 –
25th June 2021
Our 6th remote show of the year started with the controversy over the report from the Commission of Investigations into the Mother and Baby homes which came into the public domain in recent months. This discussion was prompted by Dr. Maeve O’Rourke’s, the Director of Human Rights Law Clinic at the Irish Centre for Human Rights and lecturer at NUI Galway, call on the government to repudiate the findings of the report following the disclosure by the member of the Commission, Professor Mary Daly early in the week at an academic gathering in Oxford, of the rationale for not including the voices of the victims and in particular their stories in the report.
She put it down to the terms of reference of the commission and placed particular emphasis on the fact that the testimony, which had been given by some 550 survivors, was not sworn testimony under oath and therefore could not be used. Seamus Gunn reminded Greg Hughes that the Oireachtas committee had been attempting for some time to have the members of the commission appear before it to answer questions on the report. He said that it showed a lack of sensitivity to the survivors who had gone to great pains to tell their story and had hoped that they would now be recorded in the report. He thought that it was unacceptable for Professor Daly to address this outside the jurisdiction. He also explained that under the legislation that had set up the commission there was an onus that the report should have been circulated to the survivors for their observations before it was finalised as it was to the religious orders but that this had not happened. He said that there was an “inequality of arms” in that those against whom wrongdoing was alleged had full legal representation, while survivors had none. He said notwithstanding this, they had appeared before the commission in good faith with the hope of bringing some finality to the enquiry which has been ongoing for some 6 years. Greg Hughes asked as to what the likely outcome was going forward to which our contributor thought that it was further delay and at best a repudiation of the report, which would be a step in the right direction. He was of the view that this matter will gain further traction in the media as the pressure builds to appear before the Oireachtas committee.
One of our most varied Q & A to date this year then followed.
Listen to the full interview below: