Jurisdiction, Torts, Environmental Impact Assessments, Civil, Damages
Four residents had claimed Britain failed to observe EU directives in relation to the nuclear reprocessing plant and wanted an injunction from the High Court directing BNFL to comply with those directives. They were also seeking damages for alleged assault, nuisance, trespass and negligence. BNFL had claimed the Irish courts could not pronounce on or invalidate the regulatory procedures adopted and fulfilled by the sovereign bodies of another EU member-state. The four persons taking the action against BNFL have also taken proceedings against Ireland and the Attorney General alleging the State failed to take action, including legal action, to prevent the THORP (Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant) plant coming into operation. In February 2003, the President of the High Court said the residents' statement of claim disclosed two separate actions - one against the State and the second against BNFL - and he directed that a number of preliminary issues be determined in both actions. In relation to the case against BNFL, he directed that the High Court should decide whether it had jurisdiction to declare whether THORP should have been subject to an EIA within the meaning of EC Council Directive 85/337 and/or that it should have been subject to a "justification procedures" as provided by Euratom directives. The High Court was also asked to decide whether it had jurisdiction to grant a mandatory order compelling BNFL to comply with those directives and other matters. Mr Justice Peart held that, while the issue of jurisdiction of the Irish courts was argued in the High and Supreme Courts, the judgments from both fora did not directly address the jurisdictional issue but had rather decided that the residents' claims are in the main claims in tort (for a private or civil wrong). Dealing with the jurisdictional points raised by BNFL, the judge held the Irish High Court has no jurisdiction to make any finding which either directly or indirectly finds, or is dependent on, a finding that a foreign administrative decision is invalid. found the High Court does not have jurisdiction to decide if the THORP nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield should have been subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in line with EU directives.