Minister Dempsey now party to Rossport Case

Coming up on Thursday of this week (30th March 2006) will be phase II of Judge Laffoy’s order on two motions:

1. A motion by B. Philbin and B. McGarry to amend their Defences and Counterclaim (and effectively joining Minister Dempsey as a party) and:

2. A motion by Shell to stike out elements of the Defences filed by all defendants and seeking trial of a preliminary issue. The issue identified is whether the Defendants may litigate “public law issues??? in making their defences.

The Judge has now permitted the serving of the amended defences by B. Philbin and B. McGarry. She specifically approved the joining of Minister Dempsey as a defendant to a counterclaim and he therefore is, by definition, recognised by the courts as having a case to answer as to his own behaviour.

The judge has refused all applications of Shell save one; whether there should be a trial of a preliminary issue.

A decision on that question has been postponed until the pleadings are finalised and served.

The issue of the payment of costs on each of these motions will now come for consideration, possibly as early as next Thursday.

Shell and Minister Dempsey failed in their submissions on the Philbin/McGarry motion; they will now be pursued by the defendants for the costs of the motion.

Essentially, Shell has lost on its motion likewise.

The Minister’s entry into the litigation may not be ideal from his point of view; to fall at the first fence is not the best beginning.

It is reasonable to guess that a further consequence of this will be that he, as a representative of the State, will now be joining in the much disputed mediation process as an openly interested party rather than the role of honest broker he has claimed until now.

For once I can honestly say, I think, that you heard it here first.

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