It seems that there is no end to astonishing decisions by judges in Ireland. This could be a case where drunk driving gets a little slap on the wrist or where the theft of social welfare money will be “rewarded” with the thief getting away with no punishment at all.
Last week another amazing story made it from the courts into the newspapers. The court decision that is absolutely unbelievable is already from 2013/2016 and the reason why it is appearing now again is because thankfully the losing party has appealed the decision to the High Court and I can only hope that the 2016 decision will be overturned.
According to an article in the Irish Independent, this is what happened:
A guy entered a pub in Rathmines one evening in April 2013. He ordered a pint and put EUR 10 on the counter. The barman picks up the EUR 10 note and says that this note is fake and possibly 10 other people in the pub heard that. The customer claimed that he got the note from the post office and therefore the note was not fake. Then the customer claims that he went to the Rathmines Garda Station, the note was tested and he was told that it is perfect. He then returned to the bar and told the barman what the garda said. The next day the customer went to his solicitor and sued the pub for defamation.
Sounds like a simple story, but I am still waiting for where the customer was defamed. The Circuit Court was totally on the customer’s side and awarded EUR 5,000 to the customer.
This is a super odd case, so keep reading, it gets a lot more interesting.
But let’s look at the definition of defamation first. A defamatory statement is one which tends to injure a person’s reputation in the eyes of reasonable members of society. So if the pub had been empty, the customer would not have been awarded a cent. But because there were some people in the pub that MIGHT have heard that the barman stated that this was fake money, it could be defamation. But it is ONLY defamation if the statement “injures a person’s reputation”. With the huge amounts of fake money going around, I think a lot more people than we know have handled fake notes. And if we assume that you might get a fake note as change and because most of us do not check every note we get, I think it is not certain that a person’s reputation is automatically damaged if somebody thinks that the money you have is fake.
We can all FEEL to be defamed, but that doesn’t mean our reputation actually did suffer!
But it continues!! Oddly, it turns out, that the customer did NOT go to the Garda Station in Rathmines and NO Garda confirmed that the money was “perfect”. The two gardai on duty that night said that nobody came with a potentially fake note and that they also don’t have a machine to check money. Wow! So did the the customer tell a big fat lie?
Could that also mean that he did not get this note from the post office? Not that getting a note from a post office is a guarantee that it is not fake, but possibly the money was NOT from a source that is perceived to be reputable. Allegedly he told the barman that he got it from a “bookies or a shop” but in court the customer claimed that he said he got it from the Post Office.
Looks to me that the customer’s statements might not be the most reliable? How can the Circuit Court in a situation like force the pub to give him EUR 5,000?
Was that Circuit Court judge asleep? Odd!!