21st April 2023

14th April 2023 Highland Radio Broadcast

In the week that was in it, with all eyes on the State visit of the US President Joe Biden, the show kicked off with Donal Kavanagh this morning with our contributor Seamus Gunn drawing comparisons between the current president’s stay in Ireland and that of his predecessor Donald Trump’s visit in June 2019. Seamus Gunn thought that Biden’s visit was very cleverly choreographed from touching down in Belfast on Tuesday to his joint houses of the Oireachtas address yesterday the 13th and the conclusion later today in his native Ballina in Mayo. He said that he had balanced the personal with the political and he carried a common theme throughout the 3 days, that of dignity, courage and possibilities. He said that in contrast Trump’s visit was on the backdrop of a 3 day State visit to the UK at the beginning of June 2019 and he touched down in Shannon for a one night stay at his Doonbeg Resort where he took in a round of golf, having met with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Shannon, but his main concern at the time was China rather than Europe. This again was unlike President Biden, who’s emphasis was on the unity and partnership between Ireland, the USA and Europe and the endless possibilities going forward. He also commented on Biden’s speech in Belfast with the emphasis on encouragement for the executive to be got up and running again, stating that if nothing else was achieved as a result of his visit, this would be very positive, especially with the momentum it gave the 25th Anniversary celebrations, of the Good Friday Agreement, which are imminent. 

Contrast this to Trump’s appearance on an indictment last week in New York on various criminal charges being linked to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. Our contributor Seamus Gunn said that he had some sympathy for him as he was the first president to be charged in such a manner and it could be claimed that the allegations amounted to misdemeanors while former holders of high office in the USA have faced much more serious allegations but never charged. He was of the opinion that this suited the democrats as it galvanized the baseline support for Trump to ensure that he would secure the Republican nomination and that the Democrats would be comfortable to have Biden run against Trump with Kamala Harris on the ticket. He thought that there was a lot more to be played out on this going into the back end of the year but said that he would not be surprised if the charges of last week went into the ether as they were not scheduled to come back to Court again until December next. 

One of our most varied Q&As followed and can be listened to below.

 

21st April 2023

3rd March 2023 Highland Radio Broadcast

The March show kicked off highlighting the challenge against the Personal Injury Guidelines which opened in the Supreme Court earlier in the week and concluded with a reserve decision. Seamus Gunn outlined the background to the case and the Personal Injury claim by one Bridget Delaney of Dungarvan who had a trip and fall on a public footpath in April 2019 when she suffered a fracture to her right ankle. The matter was pursued through PIAB, with an award of € 3,000.00 for General Damages for the Injury sustained. He said that preceding the Personal Injury Guidelines, this type of injury would have attracted Damages of € 18,000.00 – € 20,000.00 or thereabouts. He explained that the result of the current challenge would have serious consequences for victims of accidents who are pursuing the matter through PIAB and the Courts, and also the Insurance industry while awards since the introduction of the Guidelines have been cut in some incidences by 40%, he said that the gains were not being passed on by way of premium reductions. He said that the matter came before the High Court in 2022 when Justice Meenan rejected Ms. Delaney’s claim that PIAB had acted in breach of fair procedures and that her assessment should not have been conducted under new guidelines. She also sought Declarations that they were in breach of her rights to Natural and Constitutional Justice and that the Judicial Council acted outside its powers in adopting the Guidelines. All arguments were rejected in the High Court and as there was a serious public interest point arising, the Appeal went straight to the Supreme Court. It was heard before a 7 Judge Court. Our contributor thought that the main pillar of the argument for the Appellant was that there was an overlap in relation to the Separation of powers in that the Judiciary who sat on the Judicial Council of which there was 146 to adopt the guidelines recommended by the committee which was set up as a result of the Judicial Council Act 2019, were now being requested to Adjudicate upon its Constitutionality. He said that he was somewhat uneasy about the manner in which the guidelines were introduced in the first place and that they were set by Judges who ultimately had to make decisions in relation to their implementation. The reserve decision is awaited with interest. 

What followed in the Q&A touched on many wide and varied topics from Consumer Rights, the office of the DPP, Property Acquisitions and the Courts.

 

20th February 2023

3rd February 2023 Highland Radio Broadcast

Starting what developed into a diverse show this am, with a number of topics covered, the story on the denial of disability payments to those in full time care and payment for full time care in private care homes was referenced and discussed by Seamus Gunn and Greg Hughes this morning. The regulations of 1981 which introduced the policy of denying the disability payments to those in state care and the strategy adopted by the government in dealing with this matter over 3 successive governments was highlighted. Seamus Gunn also drew a distinction between the care for those in public care homes as opposed to those in private care homes and the fact that a redress scheme was introduced for the former in 2006. The Court of Public Opinion was mentioned, distinguishing it from 3 separate branches of the State, being the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. He questioned governing retrospectively and historically, accounting for events long since passed. He was of the view that all systems evolve to include laws with amendments over decades. He highlighted the point that legal strategies are commonly adapted to reduce liability and that the government that were charged with maintaining the coffers of the state had a duty to the public to manage the finance in the interest of the State. He said in relation to the disability payments, that they got lucky in that the claims did not materialise as anticipated over the years and that it was not until this was recently brought to light that the matter came into the public domain again despite the fact that the strategy and policy had been in place for 30 years. He said that it was not at all clear as to who would now benefit if the redress scheme was put in place to reimburse those that were deprived their disability payment when in care. He said that this was entirely separate from those claiming to be reimbursed for fees for private nursing home care, which he was of the view had not been litigated or determined by a Court while cases may have been settled. No doubt this emotive and sensitive issue shall have to be further addressed by The Executive.

The Q&A that followed touched on consumer issues, succession and burdens on property. 

12th January 2023

Highland Radio Broadcast 6th January 2023

The year opened with a wide and varied Q&A this morning with our contributor Seamus Gunn dealing with medical negligence, explaining the steps involved in commencing such an action. Then moving on to a number of Succession questions including the 1965 Succession Act, the pros and cons of putting one’s arrangements in place, to property matters and title issues with the complications that can arise when mapping discrepancies are discovered between properties. 

This followed an earlier discussion on the ongoing issues arising from the release of Enoch Burke from Mountjoy pre-Christmas to the latest developments in the story with likely more to follow. 

With every good wish to all our clients and listeners for the New Year and going forward in 2023.  

24th December 2022

Xmas 2022 Highland Radio Interview

In what is likely to be the final instalment of the 2022 year, it could not be passed without referencing the World Cup in Qatar. Our contributor Seamus Gunn said the regime has been described as authoritarian and repressive. He said that FIFA had lost an opportunity to influence major reforms in Qatar, the question of Human Rights, discrimination against women, the LGBT community and in particular highlighted the plight of the migrant workers. He said that it is in the media that up to 6,500 lives have been lost in the construction of the Stadia and the infrastructures in preparation for the games. It is reported that workers who migrated from countries such as India, Pakistan, and Nepal in the hope of finding better working and living standards, in a lot of cases worked excessive hours for little more than their bed and board. The minimum wage that was introduced at circa $ 257.00 per month, was too little too late. Women’s rights were also highlighted and the Authoritarian regime under which they lived. He noted that FIFA requested in 2009 that they put in place an International Ladies football team and that over a period of 8 years it is said that they played only 1 game. Values taken for granted in the Western world were in scarce supply in Qatar. More could have been done by FIFA to highlight the situation.

Greg Hughes made the point that each country had the right to practice it’s own customs and beliefs, a point which Seamus Gunn agreed with saying that there is no difficulty with respecting another person’s culture, while at the same time questioning and challenging certain aspects of it.

The abandonment of the wearing of the love bands at the beginning of the tournament, was another example of principles being compromised as was the refence to some pundits earning big money to be in Qatar commentating and promoting the matches.

As the football carnival leaves Doha and the Stadia are dismantled, it will be interesting to observe further developments.

Various topics were discussed in the Q&A that followed.

Festive greetings to all our listeners, friends, and clients.

Listen to the full interview below 👇

24th December 2022

Highland Radio Interview 18th November 2022

Coming to the penultimate show of 2022, the announcement of the Motor Insurer’s profits increasing to € 176 Million for 2021 did merit comment and discussion this morning. 

A € 5 Million increase on the previous year comes on the backdrop of the 3rd report from the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) recently published which showed general damages in relation to injury awards down by 44%. Our contributor Seamus Gunn outlined the background to the introduction of the Personal Injuries Board from 2003 UpToDate, the fact that there have been 2 books of Quantum to assist with assessing claims and more recently since April 2021 new guidelines were laid down by the Judicial Council following the 2019 Act. He also referred to further legislation in the pipeline being the Personal Injuries Resolution Bill which is currently progressing through the Oireachtas to further aid PIAB in extending periods of time for assessing claims and also giving them more powers to retain claims of a psychological nature which otherwise were the subject of Authorisations issuing. New measures put in place to curb awards to date have resulted in significant savings by insurers which Greg Hughes said were not being passed on to the consumer. Our contributor referenced examples of public liability insurance skyrocketing over the years for small businesses struggling to keep their doors open and keep people employed while insurers stood to make vast profits. He said that the purpose for which the legislation and PIAB was introduced was to make savings which ultimately were to be passed on to the public. He said that for the period of 2021 it was stated that premiums per policy fell just 2%. However, compared to 2009 the average premium in 2021 was 23% higher. He noted that there was little doubt that claims have reduced significantly since 2009, while there has been no benefit for the consumer. He said that he was of the opinion that it was the victim who is entitled to compensation who is being penalised firstly on awards and secondly on the premiums they were paying where the insurance companies were the benefactors. He thought that the same level of scrutiny should be applied to insurers as has been to the Personal Injury industry. He believed that this merited further attention. Greg Hughes referenced the small population of Ireland compared to the UK from which such profits were being made and also the loading on young drivers. Both host and contributor seemed to be ad idem on the imbalance herein. It shall be interesting to observe if the matter is addressed on the national stage as we approach the year end.

Some news relevant to a new Family Law Division/Court was referred to in the usual lively and varied Q&A that followed. All can be listened to below.

25th October 2022

7th October 2022 Highland Radio Broadcast

The Greg Hughes show kicked off to a lively start this morning with a debate on the Judgement delivered midweek by Judge Steyn in the High Court in London on the question of the legal costs that followed the dismissal of Rebekah Vardy’s Defamation case against Coleen Rooney, when she ordered the former to pay costs estimated at £1.5 million to Mrs. Rooney with the first tranche to be paid by 4 pm on the 15th of November next. Seamus Gunn was of the opinion that there may yet be a pay day for each of the parties in the action due to the interest the case generated on the world stage, saying that it was likely that documentaries and TV shows would follow which would go a long way towards discharging the fees involved in the case. He thought that it beggared belief how Mrs. Rooney’s private life as reported in the Sun Newspaper, featuring traveling to Mexico for gender selection, a return to TV and her basement flooding would give rise to a Court case which could ultimately cost in or around £ 3 million, taking into account each party’s legal fees. He explained that Mrs. Rooney would have already expended a considerable sum pre-trial and that these fees may not be recoverable.

Our contributor thought that Mrs. Vardy may have been considering an appeal after the initial Judgement dismissing her case but that she had major hurdles to overcome which were described as “unfortunate incidents” in the Trial which included a mobile phone being dropped into the sea, forgotten passwords and a broken laptop. He thought that without recovery of this data an appeal may only double the exposure without a return for Mrs. Vardy. He said the Judge’s summing up of the witnesses describing Mrs. Rooney as honest and reliable in comparison to Mrs. Vardy being manifestly inconsistent.. evasive or implausible were significant credibility issues.

Greg Hughes enquired as to whether there was any mechanism in place to safeguard against one taking an action such as Defamation without having the funds to back it. Our Contributor explained the circumstances which may lead to an application to the Court at the early stages of Proceedings seeking security for costs from a party to which this may apply, where they would have to put up a sum in advance of the matter going to Court to cover costs in the event of being unsuccessful. Seamus Gunn thought that the interest going forward shall be how the story plays out in the various different media channels and platforms.

There was also a mention of the class action being brought by some of the entertainment artists against the Daily Mail to restrict the reporting of the kind of gossip that led to the “Wagatha Christie” Trial. Our contributor was of the view that while this may reduce the actual costs per capita pursuing such a claim, that the Daily Mail had such a vested interest in it that they were likely to fully defend their position, a case for the future no doubt.

Various topics were touched on in the interesting Q&A that followed. You can listen to these and the full interview below. 

25th October 2022

9th September 2022 Highland Radio Broadcast

The first of the Autumn programmes kicked off with Greg Hughes raising the debate of the case in the High Court midweek of Enoch Burke the secondary school teacher being jailed for contempt of court. Our contributor Seamus Gunn pointed out that the background to the case was not that of transgenderism but arose as a result of a teacher ignoring a decision by the Board of Management of his School to suspend him on pay pending a disciplinary process which he said had not yet concluded. He accepted that while the teacher had points to make in relation to his religious beliefs and the Constitutionality of them, that the forum to raise the issues was within the hearing of the disciplinary proceedings. He said there could also have been a challenge to the process by way of Judicial review, which did not take place nor was there any challenge to the High Court Proceedings. The point that the teacher could come back to Court at any time if he wished to purge his contempt was also highlighted. This did not occur and as he had persisted in attending the school and an empty classroom which was in defiance of the injunction, a sentence could be imposed, which if served and the behaviour repeated, could result in the matter being brought back to Court for a second or third time. He made the point that the child at the centre of the case had no hand, act, or part to play in it, that the individual was dealing with a very serious and sensitive issue, and they too had their Constitutional rights. He had some reservations about the matter being in the public domain at this time. He said that all persons were equal before the law and the Constitution is there to protect everyone and would continue to do so. 

As always, the full interview and the Q&A that followed touched on a number of topics and can be listened to below. 

25th October 2022

8th July 2022 Highland Radio Broadcast

The Zoom contribution from Seamus Gunn opened up this morning with a discussion on the High Court Personal Injury action that was dismissed by Ms. Justice Gearty during the week when a claim taken by a competitor in a motocross race failed. The incident occurred at a meeting in a field in Portarlington, when the competitor sustained severe fractures to his pelvis which resulted in a number of weeks in hospital afterwards. Seamus Gunn agreed with the decision, explaining that the old maxim of Volenti non fit Injuria was applied, which meant that if one voluntarily assumes a risk and is injured as a result in partaking in an activity in which the risk is identified, they cannot then pursue a claim for the injuries suffered. He said that another point that was relevant to the case was the claim made by the Plaintiff that there was a failure to carry out any proper risk assessment of the area and the layout of the track and that there was also a necessity for a marshal at the particular bend where the accident occurred. It was explained that the accident occurred as a result of a collision between two bikes including the Plaintiff and that when the Plaintiff was on the ground the bike which was coming from behind, ran over him. He said that an expert had testified that the outcome would not have been any different if there had been a marshal at the bend and that this was accepted by the Judge. Seamus Gunn was of the opinion that it would set down a marker for such claims being taken where participants who are involved in high-risk sports are unfortunately injured. A claim for damages did not automatically follow and it was more likely to be unsuccessful if negligence could not be proved on the part of the organiser which was the situation in this unfortunate case. 

The pending appeal across the pond of Ghislaine Maxwell against her 20 year sentencing for helping the late financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse girls was also highlighted, our contributor not being optimistic about the conviction being over turned and thought at best a slight reduction in the sentence may be obtained. He said he thought it likely that the Defence would further advance the argument that Ms. Maxwell was pursued by prosecutors only because Epstein had evaded Justice, a point which did not stand up at Trial. 

One of the most wide and varied Q&As followed with some emphasis on the family law division. All of which can be listened to below. 

25th October 2022

3rd June 2022 Highland Radio Broadcast

With the Fairfax County Trial of Depp V Heard reaching a verdict midweek, there was only one show in town up for discussion this morning and as it had been referenced on the last occasion, it was fitting that it could now be revisited with the benefit of the decision. 

Seamus Gunn highlighted that in essence it was a split decision and that both parties had succeeded to some degree. He said that in this jurisdiction, such a decision could have an implication in relation to costs. But it was Johnny Depp’s camp that was hailing victory. He pointed out that the ceiling for punitive damages, while he was awarded $ 5 million, was $ 350,000K, which would taper back his decree. He said that while Ms. Heard in his view had credibility in relation to the allegations she was making, it did not matter how much mud was slung, as Depp won in the Court of social media. He was of the view that Depp had a well-oiled PR strategy that worked in his favor, it garnered massive support on social media which may have proved decisive in the overall outcome. He said that the reputational stakes were such that this was a case that Johnny Depp could not afford to lose. The case in England against the Sun in 2020 was also referred to and the different outcome in the UK jurisdiction. Our contributor thought that while Depp may have won in Fairfax County, there could be another salvo in the case as he would not rule out an appeal, although it would be unlikely to attract the same social media interest, as this had been fully played out over the past 6 weeks. He considered that it would be the “Wagatha Christie” Trial on this side of the pond i.e. in the UK, that would attract all the media attention in the coming weeks when a verdict was anticipated in Rooney V Vardy. 

The full interview and the Q&A on some interesting land matters that followed can be listened to below.