referee

The  High Court in a recent decision has confirmed that disciplinary decisions by a voluntary association or club can be subject to the review of the courts and that the circuit court has sufficient jurisdiction to conduct these reviews.

In a landmark decision, of interest to all who are invovled in clubs and societies, President Kearns on Thursday the 6th of March 2014 ruled that a club’s procedures and conduct can be the subject of review by a court.

There is a long standing rule of law, which holds that a member of a club cannot sue another

Club decisions are subject to the supervision of the courts

Club decisions are subject to the supervision of the courts

member.  This rule has been upheld in Ireland in the key cases of Murphy v Roche (No 2) [1987] IR 656 and Kirwan v Mackey (Unreported judgment of Carney J, 18 January 1995).  However, what has not been tested until recently in the courts, is whether these princples also extend over to the issue of whether a member could sue other members where they have been expelled or been the subject of other discplinary measures by a club. President Kearns held that these rules prohibiting a member from suing applies in the context of tort (ie the law relating to wrongs, in particular, negligence and personal injury) and do not extend to the area of discipline.   Further, the President ruled that the circuit court has jurisdiction (as well as the High Court) in cases of these issues, which tend to focus on whether a club or society applied proper rules of natural justice in reaching its decision to discipline a member.

For more information on the issue of clubs and societies, please contact Colm Kelly solicitor at ckelly@hcalaw.ie