Thursday, 2 Feb 2023

Debt cases taken away from outspoken Master of the High Court

The Master of the High Court, Edmund Honohan, will no longer be dealing with cases involving debt.

The move was directed on Wednesday by the President of the High Court Mr Justice Peter Kelly.

Reasons for the decision are currently unclear.

Mr Justice Kelly’s practice direction states that from February 4 all motions seeking liberty to enter a final judgment in summary summons proceedings will be set down for hearing before a judge of the High Court rather than the Master of the High Court.

It comes just weeks after Mr Honohan was issued a warning by the Courts Service after using a hammer to break three windows in the Four Courts due to “a fug” in his courtroom.

Mr Honohan has also hit the headlines over his trenchant criticism of banks and other financial institutions in their dealings with people in debt.

He helped write the Affordable Housing and Fair Mortgage Bill, aimed at keeping people in their homes.

The private members bill was introduced in the Dáil by Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness. Mr Honohan wrote to Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin urging him to support it.

Although not a judge, Mr Honohan is a senior counsel and has a quasi-judicial role.

He deals with hundreds of cases each month involving debt claims.

Until now he has been able to deal with applications for judgments against debtors in cases where there is no defence. In contested debt cases he ensures correct procedures and followed and paperwork is in order before sending the case on to the High Court.

This work is now set to be assigned to a High Court judge.

Mr Honohan also previously dealt with issues regarding discovery.

However, this ceased under a practice direction issued by a previous High Court president, the now retired Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns.

  • Read more: ‘I’d do it again’ – senior counsel who broke windows in courtroom in protest at stuffy ‘fug’ conditions

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