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When is a case likely to be dismissed for delay?

By August 16, 2023June 26th, 2024No Comments

There has been an increasing willingness on the part of the Courts to dismiss cases for ‘inordinate and inexcusable delay’ and Plaintiffs and their solicitors need to be mindful of the circumstances which could give rise to a case being struck out. This could have disastrous consequences as the Statute of Limitations is likely to have expired by the time to case is truck out which means the Plaintiff has no opportunity to restart the case.

The leading case in relation to delay is a case going back to 1996, which is a Supreme Court Decision in the case of Primor PLC v Stokes Kennedy Crowley, where the Court laid out 3 tests that need to be considered when considering whether a case should be dismissed.

  1. Has there been inordinate delay?
  2. Has the delay been inexcusable?
  3. In circumstances where the answer to the first two questions is yes, the Court then has to consider if the balance of justice is in favour of, or against, allowing the case to proceed.

In a 2022 case of Gibbons v N6 (Construction) Ltd, the Court stated that while the principles in the Primor case still remain, the Court also had to take into account its obligation to ensure in as much as possible that litigation cases are advanced by the Plaintiff with reasonable speed.

In a case of Sheehan v Cork County Council, Mr Justice Simons found that based on the facts of the particular case, the Court found there had been an inordinate delay in advancing the case, since it had been initiated in late 2013. Somewhat unusually, the Plaintiff had conceded on Affidavit that the delay was not alone inordinate, but it was also inexcusable, and so the Court had to then consider whether the balance of justice was in favour of allowing the proceedings to go to a full trail. Mr Justice Simond found that the balance of justice lay in favour of the proceedings being dismissed. The main reason for dismissing the proceedings was that the delay had impacted on the ability of the Court to make a fair decision on the particular personal injuries action in circumstances where the issues in question related to a period between 2006 and 2008.

In conclusion, it is important that the Plaintiff needs to be able to justify any delay, and that the emphasis of the Courts system is to ensure that cases are progressed with reasonable efficiency by Plaintiff solicitors.

If you have any queries in relation to any personal injury or litigation matter, please do not hesitate to contact Brendan Dillon or Donna Phelan on 012960666