Country
Ireland
Sources
InforMEA
Tagging
Contract, Criminal, Jurisdiction
Abstract
The Claimant took proceedings against Cork City Council, which had halved the frequency of waste collection from a weekly to a fortnightly basis. The District Court, found that there was a contract between Ms. Rosborough and Cork City Council, that Cork City Council were in breach of that contract, and awarded the Claimant half of the money she had initially paid to the Council to reflect this change in frequency. The matter was then referred to the High Court. The Council indicated that it would not seek costs against the Claimant whatever the outcome of the High Court proceedings, however the Claimant indicated that without a guarantee that the Council would pay her costs, she could not participate meaningfully in those proceedings. The High Court made no order as to costs as Cork City Council had not sought costs, and as the Court did not accept that there was jurisdiction to make a PCO which not only insulated the claimant from an adverse costs award but also entitled the claimant to costs even where they lost. Nevertheless, the Judge observed "...it is regrettable that no adequate system is in place to consider making provision, in appropriate cases, for the costs of parties who may find themselves caught up in litigation which has a significant degree of public importance but which is, so far as that party is concerned, of only a very small scale...it would be appropriate to give consideration to putting in place a scheme where funding could be made available (perhaps on a system analogous to the Attorney General's scheme in relation to criminal judicial review matters)". Cork City Council argues that the relationship between it, and a householder who avails of a refuse collection service, are not governed by a contract between those parties but rather by statute. Therefore the question is whether the learned District Judge was correct in his view that there was a contract between the parties. There are very significant differences between the principles by reference to which the relationship between the parties, and the actions of those parties, will be judged depending on the answer to the question as to whether the relations are governed by contract or by statute and public law. The analysis of the statutory framework and susequent case law, has led the judge to conclude that the relationship between a householder receiving a service under the existing legislation and the local authority providing that service, is, prima facie, to be governed by statute and public law rather than by contract. The important differences between the operation of public law and contract law for a number of reasons, but these include the need to emphasise the fact that any claim which Ms. Rosborough, and those in her position, may be entitled to pursue, cannot be brought, procedurally, in the way in which this claim could be brought.