24th December 2022
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.