Frivolous and Vexatious Claims*
In case ADJ00012100 the Adjudication Officer helpfully set out the definition of what is frivolous and vexatious. The case of Farley –v- Ireland and Others 1997 IESC60 is one where Mr. Justice Barron in the Supreme Court stated;
“So far as the legality of matters is concerned frivolous and vexatious are legal terms. They are not pejorative in the sense or possibly in the sense that Mr. Farley may think they are. It is merely a question of saying that so far as the plaintiff is concerned if he has no reasonable chance of succeeding then the law says that it is frivolous to bring the case.
Similarly, it is a hardship on the defendant to have to take steps to defend something which cannot succeed and the law calls that vexatious”.
In Fay –v- Tegral Pipes Limited and Others 2005 2IR261 the Supreme Court restated the principles where Mr. Justice McCracken delivered the judgement stating;
“The real purpose of the Courts inherent jurisdiction to dismiss frivolous and vexatious claims was firstly to ensure that the Courts would be used only for the resolution for genuine disputes and not for lost causes. And secondly that parties would not be required to defend proceedings which could not succeed”.
It is very helpful that the Adjudication Officer has set this out.
It is now becoming common place for some representatives to raise the argument that a claim is frivolous and vexatious. From our experience in the majority of these cases the person making these claims have absolutely no understanding of what the terms frivolous and vexatious actually mean.
In this case the claim was held to be frivolous and vexatious and the Adjudication Officer has done everyone a favour by setting out what the law on this is in a clear and precise way and hopefully those claiming that a matter is frivolous and vexatious in future will actually have regard to this decision before making that allegation. In our experience a lot of the time that this defence is raised it is raised as a last gasp defence when there is nothing else there and in effect in itself is close to an abuse of process.
*Before acting or refraining from acting on anything in this guide, legal advice should be sought from a solicitor.
**In contentious cases, a solicitor may not charge fees or expenses as a portion or percentage of any award of settlement.