18th September 2020
On another Zoom broadcast on the 4th September, the new regulations and obligations being imposed on publicans with restaurant licences were discussed. Our contributor made the point that the Irish Council for Civil Liberties had already expressed reservations about how government decisions on Covid 19 penalties are made, this was in light of the Minister for Health bringing before cabinet on the 28th August proposals that a criminal sanction be imposed for gatherings in private houses of more than 6 visitors, which was not passed by cabinet, which concluded that this should be a Civil offence. However, the penalties that would follow have not yet been determined and it is now understood that the matter is being referred to the Attorney General for further consideration. The extra powers for the enforcement of the regulations on publicans via the Gardai were also highlighted and the regulations that were required to have them enforced whereby a Superintendent can direct a Garda to issue a compliance Notice to a publican and that different measures of closure for 1-7 and up to 30 days could follow, but once again as to how this is to be policed requires further clarification. Seamus Gunn said that the latest instalment whereby a publican was now to retain information of a customer attending the premises and consuming a meal at a minimum cost of € 9.00 for 28 days has caused further concern with the Council of Civil Liberties and may also go to the Data Protection commissioner, which our contributor was of the view would be impossible to enforce and was yet another example of rash decisions being made without consultation with the parties that are most affected. He said that he was of the view that there would now be a drive to have the wet pubs open to distract from this and that it was unlikely to be enforced as anything other than a box ticking exercise. The distinction to be drawn between a restaurant/sit down establishment and a pub serving food was highlighted. A lack of direction and certainty about the regulations as to how they have been introduced and enforced to date is going to be a continuing theme in the weeks ahead. Seamus Gunn was of the view that the public would react adversely to this latest development, which could be a step too far.
Listen to the interview here:
18th September 2020
In what was a first for our contributor Seamus Gunn, the medium of Zoom was used to broadcast from the Ramelton office this morning. It led to a discussion on any advantages for the Court system using remote hearings and technology as we look to the future, post Covid pandemic. Seamus was clearly of the view that while technology has a role to play, in particular in dealing with straight forward Consent type Applications and more particularly Commercial cases where papers can be submitted and lodged in advance for consideration by the presiding Judge, who could then take submissions remotely from the representatives, that this, together with the streamlining of the court services with regard to the filing and stamping of documents would bring benefits to the efficiency of the system in the future, it would not be a replacement for the Viva Voce evidential hearings in open court. He referred to the recent English decision in the Family Law division where it was stated that “just because a hearing can be held remotely, does not mean it should be” which was a decision involving the contesting of a final care plan for a child. The Judge was of the view that a “postage stamp image” on a screen was a poor substitute to seeing that person fully present in a court room. Similar sentiment has been expressed in the High Court in this jurisdiction where it is difficult for a Judge to take a view on parties and credibility of witnesses without seeing them present before the court giving evidence. The view was that there would be no substitution for this in the future and that in any case where witnesses had to be cross examined and tested, the courtroom would be the place for this.
A wide and varied Q & A followed, which can be listened to below.