The Court of Appeal has ruled that John Waters and Gemma O’Doherty must pay the legal costs of their failed appeal against a refusal to permit them to challenge laws introduced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last month their appeal against a High Court decision not to grant them leave to bring their action judging that the appeal was “misconceived and entirely without merit“.
Ms O’Doherty and Mr Waters had argued the action was brought in the public interest, raising issues of great importance.
They claimed that their application, was made on grounds including that the case should have been dealt with on an ex parte basis and there was no need for the involvement of the State respondents in the proceedings.
They also argued that they had appeared before the court as lay litigants, and so the respondents were not at risk of an adverse costs order against them.
Mr. Justice George Birmingham responded to their claims by saying “I do not believe that the present proceedings can properly be regarded as falling within the category of public interest proceedings“.
Dismissing the appeal, Mr Justice Birmingham said the court was “quite satisfied” that the approach taken by the High Court in relation to their case “was the correct one“.
Last year, Ms O’Doherty and Mr Waters sought to challenge legislation having claimed that the laws, and the manner in which they were enacted, are repugnant to several Articles of the Constitution, including concerning the rights to travel, bodily integrity, and the family, and amounted to a suspension of constitutional rights.
The High Court also ruled that the applicants must pay the respondents legal costs of those proceedings, which were heard over two days.
In their submissions to the appeal court, Ms O’Doherty and Mr Waters argued the High Court’s decision refusing them permission to bring their challenge against the laws was wrong and that they didn’t get a fair hearing before the lower court.
Both the State and the Oireachtas had opposed their appeals, and successfully argued before the High Court that leave should not be granted.