Civil legal aid available only to individuals and not to bodies corporate under relevant legislative provisions

By: Grace Sullivan BL

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Court of Appeal: (a) affirms determination of the High Court that civil legal aid was only available to natural persons and not to bodies corporate, on the grounds that this limitation was inherent in the substance and tenor of the relevant legislation; but (b) affords a company limited by guarantee a further opportunity to consider whether it wished to make submissions on the question of a reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Judicial review of refusal of legal aid board to grant legal aid to body corporate – applicant is company limited by guarantee challenging legality of decisions of state agencies potentially affecting the environment - appeal of High Court decision determining that provisions of Civil Legal Aid Act, 1995 and Interpretation Act 2005 provide for civil legal aid for natural persons only - interpretation of legislation - test to be applied in determining whether presumption in Interpretation Act 2005 been displaced – whether provisions of Civil Legal Aid Act, 1995 was properly interpreted as limiting references to ‘persons’ to natural persons – whether Regulations made under Civil Legal Aid Act, 1995 affect interpretation of that Act – whether Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union confers right to legal aid upon bodies corporate – effect of provisions of Aarhus Convention on provision of legal aid – whether proceedings are ‘prohibitively expensive’ for a particular litigant – principle of ‘contra legem’ [“contrary to the law”] in interpretation of legislation – background to establishment of civil legal aid scheme in Ireland – whether a reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union is required.

Note: This is intended to be a fair and accurate report of a decision made public by a court of law. Any errors should be notified to the editor and will be dealt with accordingly.

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