Ireland / High Court / [2012] IEHC 370 Thomas O’Connor v Environmental Protection Agency

Key fact of the case:

On 25  July, 2012 the Environment Protection Agency granted a consent to Teagasc, Oak Park, County Carlow to carry out the deliberate release of certain genetically modified potato lines subject to certain conditions. Mr O'Connor, an organic farmer, objected to this decision of the Environment Protection Agency and indicated that he was desirous of challenging the validity of this order. He did not commence the proceedings but sought, ex parte, an order that he should not face a prohibitively expensive costs order in relation to the intended proceedings. The applicant in fact maintains that he must secure this assurance before commencing proceedings against the Environment Protection Agency, in order to avoid taking high financial risks associated with the commencement of litigation. 

Outcome of the case: 

The High Court refused the application firstly on the ground that the Court has no jurisdiction as the time of eight weeks to challenge the decision of the Agency has already expired. Secondly, the Court deemed that it would be grossly unfair to make a final decision of this kind without having given the opportunity to have been heard on the matter to the other parties. The Court maintained that the making of such a final order would constitute and infringment of the fundamental principle of fair procedures under the Constitution, the European Convention of Human Rights and the EU Charter of the Fundamental Rights.

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter: 


20. Fair procedures and the obligation to hear both sides before any final order affecting the parties can properly be made is fundamental to the judicial mandate of administering justice in the manner envisaged by Article 34.1 of the Constitution: see, e.g., DK v. Crowley [2002] IESC 66, [2002] 2 I.R. 712. This principle is equally central to the legal order established by both Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights and that of the European Union. After all, Article 41(2) of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights provides that the right to good administration means that every person has the right “to be heard, before any individual measure which would affect him or her adversely is taken.”


21. Since the making of a final order of the kind sought without notice to other parties actually or potentially affected by such order would infringe fundamental principle of fair procedures as understood by the Constitution, the European Convention of Human Rights and the EU Charter of the Fundamental Rights, I consider that I have no jurisdiction to make such an order. For those reasons, I must decline to grant the relief sought.

Deciding body (original language): 
High Court