IHREC welcomes settlement of Supreme Court appeal in Pullen v DCC

IHREC Chief Commissioner Emily Logan
IHREC Chief Commissioner Emily Logan

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) has welcomed the withdrawal of the Supreme Court appeals in the case of Pullen & Ors v Dublin City Council.

The settlement of the appeals means the original High Court ruling stands, setting what it said is a significant precedent in terms of the domestic application of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned the summary eviction procedure applied by local authorities to their tenants.

The court found Dublin City Council failed to discharge its functions in compliance with its statutory obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003 as the relevant statutory procedure relied on did not allow the tenants to defend against the loss of their family home, and there was no independent mechanism available to adjudicate on the merits of the proposed eviction.

Each of the tenants was subsequently awarded €20,000 in damages for the breach of their rights.

IHREC appeared in the case as an amicus curiae at the invitation of the High Court, and brought relevant case law and human rights standards to the attention of the court.

In submissions prepared for the Supreme Court, the Commission also sought to draw the attention of the Court to the interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003, and the remedies provided under that act, and questioned whether there was an obligation on the court, when considering the validity of legislation under the 2003 act, to also consider whether the legislation first complies with Irish constitutional standards. This issue remains to be determined by the Courts.

IHREC Chief Commissioner Emily Logan said: “The High Court judgment in this case is very significant and is now a leading case in relation to the application of the European Convention on Human Rights in domestic law.

“Not only does the judgment set out very clearly the importance of the protection afforded to the family home under the Convention, but also places an obligation on local authorities, and other organs of the State, to follow fair procedures where their actions have the potential to interfere with the Convention rights of the individual.

“The duties imposed on organs of the State under the 2003 Act have been further expanded in the new public duty under section 42 of the Human Rights and Equality Commission Act, 2014. The public duty obliges public bodies to have regard to the elimination of discrimination, the promotion of equality of opportunity and the need to protect human rights in the performance of their functions.

“The Judgment of the High Court is extremely important in highlighting the increasing centrality of taking into account human rights and equality standards when public bodies are performing their functions and engaging with the public.

“This Commission will be taking a leading role in increasing awareness of the public duty and promoting a culture of respect for human rights and equality in how public bodies do their business, and judgments such as Pullen provide very valuable guidance from the Courts in this regard.”

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