Socio-Economic Rights, the Constitution and the ECHR Act 2003: O’Donnell v South Dublin County Council in the Supreme Court

Supreme CourtThis note is based on MacMenamin J.’s decision, available here. SCOIRL have a succinct post on the outcome in this case. A decision was also given by McKechnie J, and is not yet available. However, I understand that McKechnie J. came to the same conclusion, albeit for different reasons. With thanks to Patricia Brazil for providing me with a copy of the available decision. As this is a longer post that usual, you can find a copy of this post here.

The Context

On Friday, 13 March 2015, the Supreme Court gave an important decision in the case of O’Donnell v South Dublin County Council (not yet on courts.ie, Irish Times report here). The case revolved around the statutory duties upon South Dublin County Council (SDCC) in the area of housing and Traveller accommodation. The High Court, in a number of cases: Doherty v SDCC (2007), O’Donnell v SDCC (2007) (Laffoy J.) and O’Donnell v SDCC (2008) (Edwards J) (discussed here, pp 13-14), considered the duties of local authorities under Irish housing law and the impact of the ECHR Act 2003. The Irish Supreme Court have been exceptionally conservative when it has come to interpreting the Constitution as providing any form of socio-economic rights duties on the State.

The European Court of Human Rights has been reluctant to interfere with decisions of state/local housing authorities in the housing law arena. The ECtHR has stated that Article 3 and Article 8 ECHR cannot be interpreted as providing a duty on the State to provide everybody with a home, unless there are very exceptional circumstances at play (see, M.S.S. v Belgium and Greece, discussed in detail here).

The decision on Friday, 13 March 2015 in O’Donnell v South Dublin County Council provides at least a signal, that in very exceptional circumstances, legislative duties coupled with constitutional/ECHR rights may protect socio-economic rights. However, as will become clear below, the decision has not resulted in the provision of accommodation to Ellen (or other members of the O’Donnell family) and Ellen continues to live in accommodation that is inhuman and degrading. Continue reading “Socio-Economic Rights, the Constitution and the ECHR Act 2003: O’Donnell v South Dublin County Council in the Supreme Court”

Socio-Economic Rights, the Constitution and the ECHR Act 2003: O’Donnell v South Dublin County Council in the Supreme Court

Contemporary Housing Issues in a Changing Europe

 The Call for Papers has been issued for the forthcoming international conference “Contemporary Housing Issues in a Changing Europe” to be held 20-21 April 2012 at NUI Galway. The conference is being organised by  the Centre for Housing Law, Rights and Policy at NUI Galway in association with the European Network for Housing Research (ENHR) Legal Aspects of Land and Planning WG, Public Interest Law Alliance (PILA), the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA), Housing Rights WatchFondation Abbé Pierre and the Centre for Disability Law and Policy (CDLP). The Call is posted after the jump. Continue reading “Contemporary Housing Issues in a Changing Europe”

Contemporary Housing Issues in a Changing Europe

Housing Law: Recent Developments

On 17 November, the UCD Constitutional Studies Group, supported by the UCD School of Law, will host a conference on recent developments in housing law. This will take place between 5.30 and 7.45 in the Belvedere Hotel, Great Denmark St, Dublin 1 with papers from Neil Maddox, Angela Ward and Fiona de Londras. The conference will consider recent developments in housing law with a particular focus on the implications for Irish housing law of the ECHR Act 2003. The recent judgments in Kay v United Kingdom (ECHR, 21 September 2010) and Manchester City Council v Pinnock (UK Supreme Court, 3 November 2010), and the implications which they have for Irish housing authorities under the ECHR Act 2003 will be discussed in detail. The speakers will also address recent developments in negligence and nuisance. This event will be of interest to legal practitioners, local authorities, and organisations who deal with housing issues. More complete details are available here

2 CPD hours are available for this conference. The fee is €40 (for practitioners of five years or more experience, academics and local authority representatives) or €25 (for practitioners of less than five years experience, students, NGO representatives, and the unwaged).  To reserve a place people should contact sinead.hennessy[at]ucd.ie

Housing Law: Recent Developments