CHAPTER 16 Costs
Applications for costs have been made by solicitors for parties to whom representation at the Tribunal was granted by the Chairman on 1 0th January, 2003 (see Appendix 3). An application also has been made on behalf of Mr. Kevin Ireland relating to representation by solicitor and counsel at a hearing of the Tribunal on 1st October, 2003. In addition, solicitors have applied for costs regarding discovery of documents made on behalf of the following parties:
i Beaumont Hospital;
i Dr. Desmond Bluett;
i Midland Radio Group trading as Shannonside;
i Midland Health Board now the Health Service Executive, Longford/Westmeath General Hospital;
i Midland Health Board now the Health Service Executive, St. Loman’s hospital; and,
i Western Health Board now the Health Service Executive, University College Hospital Galway.
In deciding whether a party is entitled to an order providing for the costs of representation at the Tribunal and related matters, the primary function of the Chairman in ruling on such applications is to decide in each case whether the party has cooperated with the work of the Tribunal and has not sought to frustrate or hinder the due performance of its function. The Chairman is mindful of the following observations of McCarthy J. in course of his judgement in the Supreme Court in Goodman International -v- Mr. Justice Hamilton  I.R. 542 at p. 605:
‘‘The liability to pay costs cannot depend upon the findings of the Tribunal as to the subject matter of the inquiry. When the inquiry is in respect of a single disaster, [as at Abbeylara] then, ordinarily, any party permitted to be represented at the inquiry should have their costs paid out of public funds. The whole or part of those costs may be disallowed by the Tribunal because of the conduct of or on behalf of that party at, during or in connection with the inquiry. The expression ‘the findings of the Tribunal’ should be read as the findings as to the conduct of the parties at the Tribunal. . .’’
I have considered the applications for costs in the light of the foregoing legal principles. It has not been established in evidence or otherwise that any of the parties who seek costs have failed to honour their obligations to the Tribunal. Accordingly, it is proper that I should by order provide that each of them is entitled to costs of
representation at the Tribunal (including that relating to the discovery of documents, if made) on a party and party basis subject to taxation. Such costs shall be paid by the Minister for Finance out of public funds.
Two parties, i.e., the Minister and the Commissioner, were represented by the Chief State Solicitor and counsel instructed by him. They are state bodies for whom the Minister for Finance has an obligation to discharge legal fees and expenses relating to representation at the Tribunal. In the course of submissions made on behalf of the Minister for Finance to the Mahon Tribunal regarding, inter alia, the costs of state bodies, it was urged that ‘‘bodies funded from public funds ought not to be awarded their costs unless the Tribunal is satisfied that special circumstances exist which make it equitable to do so.’’
The foregoing submission on behalf of the Minister for Finance was to the effect that in the absence of exceptional circumstances there is no useful purpose in seeking orders for the costs of state bodies who were represented at a Tribunal because the Minister for Finance has an obligation to discharge such costs and the making of a formal order in that regard is in the ordinary course irrelevant. It would appear that the only circumstance in which it might be appropriate is where the state is entitled to an order for such costs against another party. No such situation has arisen in this Tribunal and the Attorney General has not sought to make that case. Accordingly, no order for costs will be made regarding the Minister’s or the Commissioner’s costs of representation at the Tribunal or related matters.