Taxpayers have to foot a six-figure bill for Gemma O’Doherty and John Waters’ legal challenge to Covid rules

The Supreme Court has ruled that Gemma O’Doherty and John Waters’ should not pay the state’s legal fees in the failed challenge to the constitutionality of the Covid-19 pandemic laws.

Earlier this month, the court dismissed by six to a majority an appeal against a High Court decision, later upheld by the Court of Appeal (CoA), not to allow O’Doherty and Waters to bring their case against the Measures taken on the basis that it was “misdesigned and totally unfounded”.

Following that decision, the state sought his legal costs, which were estimated to be in the six figures, as he was “completely successful” with his appeal.

Ms O’Doherty and Mr Waters, who represented themselves at all times, rejected the motion on the grounds, among other things, that their action was “absolutely exceptional” and one in which they had sought no personal gain.

Mr Waters said that while they “disagree in principle” with the Supreme Court’s decision, the issues raised were fundamental.

He said they were reluctant to initiate the process.

They had hoped that someone more legally qualified than them, such as a retired judge, would step up to challenge the measures. However, that did not happen, he said.

Chief Justice Donal O’Donnell announced the costs order, saying the court decided not to make an order regarding the state’s request that its costs be borne by the applicants.

He also said that the Court is setting aside costs decisions made against them by both the High Court and the CoA after those two courts dismissed the applicant’s claim.

The judge said that in making his decision he took into account the decisions made against them, the Supreme Court’s findings and the way the hearings had been conducted.

The courts are a place where legal issues need to be dealt with in a professional manner, not a place where general grievances are raised against bodies such as the media.

However, the court also had to take into account the nature of the arguments and the fundamental issues raised in the case, as well as the fact that the applicants did not seek personal gain from the lawsuit.

In those circumstances, on that basis, the Court stated that it was not awarding the applicants any costs vis-à-vis the State.

In relation to the court costs incurred by the Dáil, Seanad and Ceann Comhairle because they were a party when the matter was heard in the High Court and CoA, the Chief Justice suggested that those parties should have an order on costs of the proceedings only should apply before the CoA. Taxpayers have to foot a six-figure bill for Gemma O’Doherty and John Waters’ legal challenge to Covid rules

Fry Electronics Team

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