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O'Connell v. The Turf Club
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1 User Commentary

Melanie Davidson (In-house lawyer) 28 September 2015

Case Digest: O'Connell v The Turf Club [2015] 6 JIC 2503

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The Supreme Court handed down its judgment on 25th June 2015 in O'Connell v The Turf Club [2015] 6 JIC 2503.

The applicants appealed to the Supreme Court against the finding of the High Court and the respondent cross-appealed.

The appeal raised four interrelated issues: (1) whether the Turf Club was amendable to judicial review, (2) whether the appellants had sufficient standing to bring proceedings, (3) whether principles and policies test applied to the adoption of the Rules of Racing and whether the Horseracing Industry Act 1994, as amended by the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act 2001, permitted lawful adoption, (4) whether the respondent’s conduct had judicial nature, therefore was unconstitutional.

In the judgment given by O’Donnell J he concluded that “[t]he 1994 Act did not remove or supplant that jurisdiction created by contract. If anything it sought to add to it and support it”. The appeal wouold be dismissed.

The members of the club were bound by contract, therefore the matter of private and contract law regulated any legal aspect to this organisation. In relation to amenability to judicial review, the focus had been put on Irish case law and it was concluded that the changes introduced by the 1994 Act, placing the Club’s activities within a statutory framework, had the effect of rendering the decisions of the Turf Club as amendable to judicial review. Therefore the cross-appeal was dismissed.

The judgment also addressed the question of the applicant’s locus standi to challenge the Rules of Racing. It was stated that the appellants had sufficient standing to bring the proceedings.

The applicants contended that the decisions in relation of disciplining members of the club interfered with their livelihoods therefore amounting to the administration of justice, which under the Constitution is unlawful. It was held that the decision making function of the Turf Club comes sufficiently within the realm of public law so that it may be supervised by judicial review, but is not itself a body administering justice.

Therefore the appeal by the applicants was dismissed. The counter appeal by the Turf Club was also dismissed.


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