Application no. 18595/04
by Michael WHITE and Seamus WOULFE
The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting on 24 November 2005 as a Chamber composed of:
Mr B.M. Zupančič, President,
Mr J. Hedigan,
Mr C. Bîrsan,
Mr V. Zagrebelsky,
Mrs A. Gyulumyan,
Mrs R. Jaeger,
Mr E. Myjer, judges,
and Mr V. Berger, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 27 May 2004,
Having regard to the decision to apply Article 29 § 3 of the Convention and examine the admissibility and merits of the case together.
Having regard to the formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case.
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicants, Mr Michael White and Mr Seamus Woulfe, are Irish nationals born in 1953 and 1962, respectively. They live in Dublin. They are represented before the Court by Murray Flynn Maguire, Solicitors, a law firm based in Dublin.
The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicants, may be summarised as follows.
In May 1991 the first applicant solicitor was instructed by two members of parliament (“TD”) to act on their behalf during a tribunal of inquiry into the beef industry. The first applicant retained the second applicant, who is a barrister, in February 1992. They both provided substantial legal services to the TDs until in or about July 1993. On 29 July 1994 the tribunal’s report was published. It ordered that the TDs costs (as billed by the applicants) be taxed and discharged by the Minister for Finance.
The Taxing Master heard oral submissions on 24, 25 and 29 January 1996, gave his first ruling on 23 February 1996 and issued an interim certificate of taxation on 13 March 1996. He heard the parties again on 27 and 28 June 1996 and delivered his final ruling on 30 July 1996.
On 19 August 1996 the Minister applied to the High Court for a statutory review of taxation. The High Court hearing began on 30 June 2000 and continued on 5 and 6 July 2000. Judgment was (partially and orally) delivered on 31 July 2003. A full written judgment was made available on 21 October 2003 and a final order was made on 2 December 2003 remitting the matter for completion of taxation.
The final certificate of taxation was issued on 24 May 2004: it confirmed the level of fees due to the applicants which had already been discharged on 19 April 2004.
On 14 October 2005 the applicants and the Government submitted formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case.
The applicants complained under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention about the length of the proceedings and under Article 13 of the Convention about the lack of an effective domestic remedy in that respect.
On 14 October 2005 the Court received a declaration from the Government proposing a settlement in the following terms:
“1. The sum of EUR 20,000 to be paid to Michael White.
2. The sum of EUR 10,000 to be paid to Seamus Woulfe.
3. The sum of EUR 12,100 (i.e. EUR 10,000 plus Value Added Tax) to be paid in respect of the applicants’ costs in this Application.”
On 14 October 2005 the Court received a declaration by the applicants’ representatives that the applicants are prepared to settle on such terms.
The Court takes note of the friendly settlement reached between the parties. It is satisfied that the settlement is based on respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and its Protocols and finds no public policy reasons to justify a continued examination of the application (Article 37 § 1 in fine of the Convention). Accordingly, Article 29 § 3 of the Convention should no longer apply to the case.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to strike the application out of its list of cases.
Vincent Berger Boštjan
WHITE AND WOULFE v. IRELAND DECISION
WHITE AND WOULFE v. IRELAND DECISION