08 June 2009

Gerry, meet Ioworth

News just in, "Four Real IRA leaders found liable for Omagh bombing."

The Guardian reports,

"Four leaders of the Real IRA have been found liable for the 1998 Omagh bombing in a landmark civil case brought by the families of those killed."

But will this mean that the IRA will be liable for the atrocities that they committed?

Ordinarily there is a time limit as to when you can bring about a claim for damages under trespass against the person.

Ioworth Hoare

But do you remember the Lotto Rapist case?

The affect of this case (A v Hoare) was to give some leeway to otherwise statute barred claims to make their way through the courts.

Lord Hoffman said, "In A v Hoare the defendant was convicted in 1989 of an attempted rape of the claimant, involving a serious and traumatic sexual assault. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. In 2004, while still serving his sentence, he won £7m on the national lottery. The claimant started proceedings for damages on 22 December 2004 but Master Eyre, applying Stubbings, struck out the action as barred under section 2 of the 1980 Act. This decision was affirmed by the judge and the Court of Appeal [2006] 1 WLR 2320. I would allow the claimant's appeal and remit the case to a judge of the Queen's Bench Division to decide whether the discretion under section 33 should be exercised in the claimant's favour."

So are we to expect a great number of claims through the courts?

That depends upon whether or not the victims of these terrorist attacks can provide evidence to present to the courts. Look again at the Guardian story, "[t]he Omagh civil action became the first case to be heard on both sides of the Irish border after gardaĆ­ – the police of the Irish Republic – were granted special permission to give evidence about the bomb plot and the Real IRA."

"Special Permission"?

That doesn't bode well. It looks as though all of the evidence for these terrorist offences will be under the control of the state through their ability to use Public Interest Immunity Certificates. The public interest being the maintenance of the Good Friday Agreement.

Compare - The Law and Subversion and Insurgency Suppression

Update - bailii has published the case, Breslin & Ors v McKenna & Ors (Omagh Bombing case) [2009] NIQB 50.

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