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Judgment
Title:
Molloy -v- Reid
Neutral Citation:
[2014] IESC 4
Supreme Court Record Number:
56/13
High Court Record Number:
2006 1729 P
Date of Delivery:
01/29/2014
Court:
Supreme Court
Composition of Court:
Denham C.J., Murray J., Clarke J.
Judgment by:
Clarke J.
Status:
Approved
Result:
Dismiss
Judgments by
Link to Judgment
Concurring
Clarke J.
Denham C.J., Murray J.



THE SUPREME COURT
[Appeal No: 56/2013]

Denham C.J.
Murray J.
Clarke J.

      Between/
JOHN MOLLOY
Plaintiff/Respondent
and


ALBERT REID
Defendant/Appellant

Judgment of Mr. Justice Clarke delivered on 29th January, 2014.

1. Introduction
1.1. Time, it is said, waits for no man. Time can be important in many aspects of the law. In private law, parties frequently agree that their obligations are to be met within a certain timeframe. Sometimes, because those parties agree that time is essential to their agreement, even a minor failure to comply in time will be considered a breach which may lead to significant consequences. On other occasions, time may not be so vital and some leeway may be allowable. Likewise, time is important in the bringing and conduct of litigation. Old cases run their own risk of injustice. For that reason there have always been limitations on the ability of parties to commence litigation at too great a remove from the events which give rise to the claim. Again, sometimes there is a formal statutory limitation period which precludes (except in exceptional circumstances such as fraud) the bringing of a case outside the period specified by the Oireachtas. In other types of cases (such as claims involving equitable relief), the court is given a broad discretion to decide whether the case has been taken in a timely fashion without there being any fixed period specified. There are, of course, advantages and disadvantages between the adoption of a fixed period and the conferring of a discretion on the court. In some circumstances it might be considered that flexibility is an advantage so that the court can take into account all relevant circumstances. On the other hand, certainty brings its own advantages. When there is a fixed period, a party knows where it stands. A claim is either in or out of time. In such cases a party does not have to wait, ordinarily, until a judge decides on the basis of a range of potential factors whether they could be said to have delayed too much.

1.2. This case involves the limitation period for personal injury actions. Given that the whole point of a limitation period is that there should be certainty, it is unfortunate that there can be legitimate debate about whether this claim is in or out of time. However, the particular context of the issue which arises in this case concerns the changes which were brought about in relation to the limitation period for personal injury actions by virtue of the introduction of the Personal Injury Assessment Board (“PIAB”). The role of PIAB is well known and well rehearsed. Personal injury claims go to PIAB for assessment. A claimant is not entitled to bring court proceedings unless and until their claim has been through the PIAB system and the claimant has been authorised to bring a case to court because the case has not resolved through the PIAB system.

1.3. Given that regime, it was not surprising that the Oireachtas included in the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003 (“the PIAB Act”) provisions extending the period within which personal injury litigation could be commenced which, in substance, have the effect of stopping time running while a case is in the PIAB system and for a period of six months thereafter. Section 50 of the PIAB Act requires that the period between the making of an application to PIAB and six months from “the date of issue of an authorisation” under the PIAB Act is to be disregarded for the purposes of calculating the relevant limitation period. This case turns solely on the question of when it can be said that there has been an “issue of an authorisation” for those purposes. Both parties agree, correctly in my view, that if that phrase is properly interpreted as meaning the day on which the relevant authorisation is sent out to the intended recipient then the injuries claim brought by the plaintiff/respondent (“Mr. Molloy”) in these proceedings is statute barred. On the other hand, it is also common case that, if the proper date on which it can be said that an authorisation was issued is the date when Mr. Molloy either received or was likely to have received or be deemed by law to have received the relevant authorisation, his claim is not statute barred. In one sense, therefore, this case turns on a highly technical question as to the proper interpretation of that phrase. While it might seem, on first consideration, that it is inappropriate that the question of whether Mr. Molloy can pursue his claim depends on such a technicality, it must be remembered that the whole point behind a statute of limitations is to attempt to bring certainty. An ordinary contract claim, for example, must be brought within 6 years. A person who brings a claim after 5 years and 364 days is free to pursue their claim fully. A person who seeks to bring exactly the same claim 2 days later, after 6 years and 1 day, is precluded. In one sense the additional delay is highly marginal – 1 or 2 days in the context of 6 years is unlikely to make any great difference. However, the importance of bringing certainty by the imposition of a specific limitation period means that that day or two turns out to be very important. If leeway were to be given, then there would, of course, be much less certainty. The Oireachtas has chosen certainty in cases such as this. In that context it is, perhaps, unfortunate that the desired certainty has been somewhat clouded by the use of a term which is at least open to legitimate debate. However, the principle that there should be certainty remains and if the interpretation argued for on behalf of the defendant/appellant (“Mr. Reid”) is correct then, unfortunately, Mr. Molloy’s claim is statute barred and cannot be pursued.

1.4. This matter was considered by Ryan J. in the High Court who delivered judgment on the 18th January, 2013 (Molloy v. Reid [2013] IEHC 77). For reasons which I will address in early course, Ryan J. concluded that the relevant date was that of presumed receipt in ordinary course of post and not the date when the relevant authorisation was actually put in the post. On that basis, Ryan J. ruled that the claim was not statute barred and ought be permitted to proceed. Mr. Reid has appealed to this Court against that finding. I will, in that context, turn briefly to the facts which demonstrate the net issue which this Court has to decide.

2. The Facts
2.1. Mr. Molloy alleges that he suffered a significant injury on the 15th June, 2002, when struck by a horse at Mr. Reid’s farm. Mr. Molloy alleges negligence against Mr. Reid. At the relevant time, the limitation period for personal injury claims was 3 years. Thus, the statutory period in which Mr. Molloy could have brought his claim would have expired on the 14th June, 2005. On the 22nd July, 2004, the PIAB Act came into effect. Mr. Molloy’s completed application to PIAB pursuant to s. 11 of the PIAB Act was received on the 17th May, 2005. Mr. Molloy therefore had 29 days unexpired in his limitation period as of that date. As noted earlier under s. 50 of the PIAB Act, the time between making an application and six months after the date of issue of an authorisation is omitted from the calculation of the time period in which a court action can be initiated. In full, s. 50 provides:

      “In reckoning any period of time for the purposes of any limitation period in relation to a relevant claim specified by the Statute of Limitations 1957 or the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Act, 1991, the period beginning on the making of an application under section 11 in relation to the claim and ending 6 months from the date of issue of an authorisation under, as appropriate, section 14, 17, 32 or 36, rules under section 46(3) or section 49 shall be disregarded.” (emphasis added)
Mr. Reid did not consent to the making of an assessment by PIAB and, thus, a certificate pursuant to s. 14 was posted to Mr. Molloy on the 22nd September, 2005, authorising the initiation of court proceedings. Mr. Molloy mislaid the relevant authorisation when it arrived and a copy authorisation was furnished which erroneously stated that the time limit would continue to be suspended for six months from the 26th October, 2005, i.e. the date of the issue of the copy authorisation.

2.2. On the 20th April, 2006, these proceedings were issued. If “the date of issue of an authorisation” is determined to be the day of posting of the s. 14 authorisation, then the 20th April, 2006, would be the first day after the limitation period has expired. Thus, the claim would be statute barred. However, if time does not begin to run again until the letter would have arrived in the ordinary course of post, or be deemed to have been received, then the proceedings would have been issued within the time allowed and Mr. Molloy could continue with these proceedings.

2.3. It is also, in considering the facts, relevant to have regard to s. 79(1) of the PIAB Act, which states:

        “(1) A notice or other document that is required to be served on or given or issued to a person under this Act shall be addressed to the person concerned by name, and may be so served on or given or issued to the person in one of the following ways:
            (a) by delivering it to the person;

            (b) by leaving it at the address at which the person ordinarily resides or, in a case in which an address for service has been furnished, at that address; or

            (c) by sending it by post in a prepaid registered letter to the address at which the person ordinarily resides or, in a case in which an address for service has been furnished, to that address.”

Thus it is clear that an authorisation can be issued to a claimant by sending it by registered post.

2.4. On that basis it is clear that the question of whether Mr. Molloy’s claim is statute barred stands or falls on the competing contentions in relation to when it can be said that the relevant authorisation was issued. Against that background, it is next necessary to turn to the reasoning of the trial judge.

3. The High Court Judgment
3.1. Ryan J. delivered his ruling on the preliminary issue as to whether Mr. Molloy’s claim was statute barred on the 18th January, 2013. After examining the cases referred to by counsel in their submissions, Ryan J. expressed the opinion that none of those cases was directly on point. He also found that the PIAB Act contained “no express provision as to whether time begins to run on the date when the document is sent or when it would be received in the normal course of registered post.”

3.2. The judge then turned to s. 18 of the Interpretation Act 1937 (“the 1937 Act”), which was the interpretation legislation in force at the time when the relevant events in this case occurred. This section provided:

      “Where an Act of the Oireachtas or an instrument made wholly or partly under any such Act authorises or requires a document to be served by post, whether the word “serve” or any of the words “give”, “deliver”, or “send”, or any other word is used, then, unless the contrary intention appears, the service of such document may be effected by properly addressing, prepaying (where requisite), and posting a letter containing such document, and in such case the service of such document shall, unless the contrary is proved, be deemed to have been effected at the time at which such letter would be delivered in the ordinary course of post.”
Ryan J. summarised his interpretation of this section and its consequences in the context of this case at pp. 8-9 of his judgment:
      “My interpretation is in a nutshell as follows. Time is reckoned from the date of issue of an authorisation - s. 50 of the PIAB Act. The obligation on the Board in the circumstances of this case is under s. 14, which requires at subs. (2) the Board "to issue to the claimant a document". A document that is required to be issued under the Act may be issued by sending it by post in a pre-paid registered letter- section 79(1)(c). That is what happened. Section 18 of the Interpretation Act 1937, provides that where an Act of the Oireachtas authorises or requires a document to be served by post, which is the case under s. 79(1)(c), service is deemed to be effected at the time when the letter would be delivered in the ordinary course of post. If that happens to be by post in a pre-paid registered letter, the provision as to the ordinary course of post is not displaced by the fact of sending by post in a registered letter. There is simply no warrant for making that exclusion in provisions which are otherwise clear and unambiguous.
My conclusion is that the relevant date is that of presumed receipt in ordinary course of post and not on the date when it is actually put into the post. It follows therefore, that the defendant's motion must fail and the case is not statute barred.”

3.3. Against that background, it is necessary to outline arguments put forward on this appeal.

4. The Argument on this Appeal
4.1. Counsel for both parties were commendably succinct in their submissions. Counsel for Mr. Reid commenced by suggesting that the ordinary meaning of a phrase such as “issued to” meant that the act concerned was completed as soon as the relevant document had been sent to the nominated individual in whatever way the law required or permitted it to be transmitted. In that context reliance was placed on Knight v Nicholls & Anor [2004] 1 W.L.R. 653. This case concerned rules prescribed by the relevant United Kingdom Secretary of State pursuant to s. 36(1) of the Representation of People Act 1983, for the running of local elections. The relevant rule was Rule 19 of the Local Elections (Principal Area) Rules 1986. This provided:

      “The returning officer shall, in accordance with regulations made under the Representation of People Act 1983, issue to those entitled to vote by post a postal ballot paper and a declaration of identity ... together with such envelopes for their return ... as may be prescribed by such regulations.” (emphasis supplied)
The relevant regulations were the Representation of People (England and Wales) Regulations 2001. Tuckey L.J. held that the phrase “issue to” in Rule 19 required some element of “sending forth or delivery” but did not require the returning officer to ensure delivery of the ballots. Rather, his obligation was said to be to ensure that the ballot papers were dispatched to a carrier capable of delivering the ballots on time.

4.2. On that basis it was argued that, unless there was something in the context of this legislation or contained in other relevant legislation, which would mandate a departure from what was said to be the ordinary meaning of the term, then the phrase should be interpreted as meaning that an authorisation was issued when it was transmitted in accordance with any of the methods permitted by s. 79(1) of the PIAB Act.

4.3. So far as context is concerned, counsel acknowledged that part of that context was the fact that a statute of limitations necessarily involves a limitation on the constitutional right of access to the court. However, counsel drew attention to the fact that, in substance, the effect of s. 50 of the PIAB Act is to leave a claimant with a period of 6 months plus whatever portion of the original limitation period remained unexpired at the time of the application to PIAB in the case in question to issue proceedings before a relevant claim would become statute barred. On that basis it was suggested that there would be no material additional interference with the right of access to the court by an interpretation of s. 50 which started time running again from the date of sending out an authorisation (if it was done by post) compared with a presumed date of receipt which would be one or two days later. In either case, counsel noted, the claimant would have a period of not less than 6 months to commence their claim. On that basis it was suggested that the constitutional context ought not influence the proper interpretation of s. 50.

4.4. Likewise, it was argued that there was nothing in the PIAB Act itself which ought lead to a different construction being placed on s. 50. While s. 79 permits a document to be issued to a person by sending it by post in a prepaid and properly addressed registered letter, that provision, it was said, if anything supported the view that the document might be said to have been “issued to” the person as soon as it was sent.

4.5. In that context counsel argued that the provisions of the 1937 Act concerning presumed receipt were of no relevance. As noted earlier, s. 18 of the 1937 Act provides that, unless the contrary intention appears, a statute which requires a document to be served by post (whatever language may be used) allows the relevant requirement to be met by posting a letter containing the relevant document properly stamped and addressed, and further deems, unless the contrary is proved, service to have been affected “at the time when such letter would be delivered in the ordinary course of post”. Counsel for Mr. Reid argued, however, that this provision was of no relevance to the question which this Court has to decide. It was accepted, of course, that if the PIAB Act required “service” then the 1937 Act might (subject to a point concerning registered post which I will shortly mention) be relevant as it would deem such service to occur when the letter containing the authorisation would have arrived in the ordinary course of post. However, counsel’s argument was that the PIAB Act did not require service but rather required that a document be “issued” and that, in that context, the 1937 Act had no application.

4.6. In any event counsel further argued that the provisions of the 1937 Act concerning service by post had no application in the case of service by registered post. Counsel drew attention to the fact that, while there is express reference in the 1937 Act to the letter concerned being properly addressed and having any appropriate payment made, there is no reference to registration. On that basis it was argued that the provision could not be taken to apply to registered post for, it was argued, if it did, then an anomalous situation would arise where service would be deemed to be effected by registered post even if the letter were not registered.

4.7. In the context of the issuing of a document, counsel also referred to my judgment in Fogarty v McKeogh Brothers (Ballina) Limited [2010] 4 I.R. 374, where I also had to consider the correct meaning of the phrase “issue of an authorisation” in the context of ss. 14 and 50 of the PIAB Act. At pp. 378-379, I stated:

      “Firstly, it seems to me to be important to note that s. 50 does not speak of the issue of an authorisation simpliciter. Rather the section speaks of an authorisation under one of the relevant sections (in the circumstances of this case under s. 14). Section 14 refers to an authorisation being issued to a claimant and in those circumstances it seems to me that it is necessary to construe s. 50 in the light of s. 14 of the Act of 2003. I have come to the view that counsel for the plaintiff was correct when he argued that there is a distinction between documents which can be said to have simply been issued, such as, for example, proceedings issued from the Central Office of the High Court, on the one hand, and documents which can only properly be said to have been issued when they have been directed towards an appropriate recipient. Section 14, in my view, makes clear that the term "issue" in the sense in which it is used both in that section and by necessary implication in s. 50, is of the latter type. A document containing an authorisation under s.14, can only be said to have been issued when it is issued to the claimant concerned. There may be some room for legitimate debate as to whether that event occurs when the document is actually sent to the claimant or whether that event occurs when the document is received by the claimant. It is, however, unnecessary to resolve that question on the facts of this case for in either event the plaintiff is in time. Without deciding the matter, I am inclined to the former”.
4.8. Counsel for Mr. Reid accepted that it is clear from the judgment in Fogarty that, while s. 50 speaks only of the “date of issue” of an authorisation, it is necessary, in attempting to construe when the date of issue might occur, to have regard to other provisions of the PIAB Act which refer to a document being issued “to” the relevant claimant. On that basis a document cannot be said to have been issued for the purposes of s. 50 until it has, at a minimum, been issued “to” the claimant. Fogarty leftover to a further case the question of whether the relevant date of issue occurs when the letter is sent or received (including being deemed to be received). That is, of course, the exact issue which arises on the facts of this case. In passing, it should also be commented that the reason why I expressed my views in such a tentative way in Fogarty was not just because the issue did not arise on the facts of that case but also because, precisely because the issue did not arise, it was not argued and no reference was, on that basis, made to s. 79.

4.9. Counsel also drew attention to certain cases taken in the planning field which were said to be of some assistance by analogy. These cases concern default planning permissions pursuant to s. 26(4) of the Local Government Planning and Development Act 1963 (“the 1963 Act”) where the relevant planning authority did not “give notice” of their decision to the applicants within the prescribed period, thus leading to default permissions under that former legislation. Section 7 of the 1963 Act provided, insofar as was relevant:

        “(i) Where a notice .... is required ... by this Act ... to be ... given to a person, it shall be addressed to him and shall be .... given to him in one of the following ways;
            (c) By sending it by post in a prepaid registered letter addressed to him and the address at which he ordinarily resides or, in a case in which an address for service has been furnished, at that address”.

4.10. In State (Murphy) v Dublin County Council [1970] I.R. 253, O’Keeffe P. rejected a submission by the prosecutor that s. 26(4) of the 1963 Act had to be read in conjunction with s. 18 of the Interpretation Act 1937 as there had been “no reference to “service” of the notice” in s. 26(4). He held that the intention of the legislature was clear and that, therefore, it was the date of dispatch rather than the date of receipt which was important for the purposes of the section.

4.11. However, this reasoning has not been followed in subsequent High Court cases. In Freeney v Bray Urban District Council (Unreported, High Court, O’Hanlon J., 16th July 1981), O’Hanlon J. held that the intention of the legislature in enacting the 1963 Act was that the decisions of the authority would be communicated within a strict time limit and described s. 18 of the Interpretation Act 1937 as being “in ease of the sender of such Statutory Notice, since it raises a presumption in his favour that the Notice has reached the Applicant at the time when it would have been delivered to him in due course of post”. He added that “it was intended that notice of decisions should reach Applicants either in person or at their premises within the period prescribed by the Act as “the appropriate period””.

4.12. Section 18 of the Interpretation Act was not referred to in Flynn v Dublin Corporation [1997] 2 I.R. 558. However, in that case again Kelly J. held that it was “the date of communication of the Respondent’s decision and not the date of the actual decision which is crucial to the Applicant’s case”.

4.13. On the other side, counsel for Mr. Molloy argued that the provisions of the 1937 Act were relevant and governed the case so that it was said that the relevant date on which an authorisation could be said to have been issued must be the date when, in accordance with that Act, the claimant was deemed to receive same or, more accurately, deemed to have been served with same.

4.14. Counsel in addition argued that the fact that the PIAB Act required that issuance of an authorisation, if post be chosen, be by means of registered post did not take such a process outside the scope of the 1937 Act. It was argued that the ordinary meaning of the term “by post” encompassed a document being sent by registered post. Reliance in that regard was placed on the decision in T. O. Supplies (London) Ltd v. Jerry Creighton Ltd [1952] 1 K.B. 42. That case concerned s. 437 of the United Kingdom Companies Act 1948, which provides that service can be effected by sending the relevant writ by post to the registered office of the company. In that case, the writ had been sent by registered post and it was disputed whether this was proper service for the purposes of the legislation. Devlin J. held that the “word ‘post’ in its ordinary and natural meaning is wide enough to cover both registered post and ordinary post” and that no valid distinction could be drawn between the two forms of post in the context of the section.

4.15. Importantly, counsel drew attention to two aspects of s. 79 of the PIAB Act. First, it was noted that sub-sections (1)(a) and (1)(b) both involve means of delivering a document where the document would come into the control of the recipient immediately on the relevant act happening. Subs. (a) relates to actual delivery to the person concerned. Subs. (b) concerns leaving the relevant document at an appropriate address (an address of ordinary residence or a nominated address). In the former case, the recipient would actually get the document into their hand. In the latter case, the document would be delivered to an address where it could reasonably be anticipated that the recipient would or should have immediate access to the document.

4.16. If, counsel argued, the submissions made on behalf of Mr. Reid were correct, then there would be a curious, and counsel submitted an anomalous, situation whereby s. 79(1)(c), on the other hand, provided that a document could be issued to a recipient without that person having that document within their control whereas, for the reasons just noted, issuance under sub-subsections (a) or (b) would leave the document immediately within the control of the recipient.

4.17. In addition, counsel drew attention to the fact that, while s. 79 refers to a range of instances where documents are required to be transmitted, including, but not limited to, cases where a document is required to be “issued to” a person, nonetheless the address to which a letter could be posted, in accordance with sub-section (1)(c), is described as “an address for service”. On that basis counsel argued that s. 79 seems to use terms such as “served”, “given” or “issued to” almost interchangeably.

4.18. On that basis counsel argued that what was contemplated by s. 79 was that a document could not be said to have been “issued to” a person until that person had either received it or had been deemed to have received it.

4.19. So far as the arguments based on Knight together with those based on State (Murphy) v Dublin County Council, Freeney v Bray Urban District Council and Flynn were concerned, counsel suggested that the issues of interpretation with which the courts were concerned in those cases were significantly different being, in particular, so far as Knight is concerned, the question of the acts by reference to which a party could be said to have complied with its obligation to issue a document to someone rather than the narrower question of the time at which the relevant document might have been said to have been so issued to that person.

4.20. In addition, it was argued that the later Irish planning cases, if anything, favoured the interpretation urged on behalf of Mr. Molloy. Counsel suggested that Freeney tends to demonstrate that the court leans in favour of an interpretation which requires actual or deemed communication (rather than sending) where a legislative provision is concerned with time limits which are determined by reference to the sending or transmission of documents.

5. Discussion
5.1. I have come to the view that the key question in this case is as to the proper interpretation of the phrase “issued” in the context of the PIAB Act taken as a whole. It seems to me that counsel for Mr. Molloy was correct when he drew attention both to the fact that two of the three methods by which documents may be either served, given or issued to persons (in accordance with s. 79 of the PIAB Act) require actual delivery into the control of the recipient. Why then would the Oireachtas have allowed an authorisation to be considered to be “issued to” a recipient by registered post in circumstances where, unlike the other two cases, the document could be said to have been “issued to” the relevant claimant without it coming (or having been deemed to have come) under his or her control. I am also satisfied that counsel was correct when he suggested that Freeney is authority for the proposition that the court should lean in favour of actual communication when interpreting statutory provisions which impose strict time limits affected by the communication of a notice or document. Where, as here, important rights (in particular the right of access to the court) can be interfered with by reason of a failure to comply with a time limit then the highest level of certainty and fairness in the operation of the relevant statutory regime is mandated. The situation might be different if there were clear statutory language which pointed only to a different interpretation. However, the view that time begins to run again against a claimant at a point when the claimant did not know of that fact is one which I would only come to if the statute clearly mandated such to be the case.

5.2. Likewise, it seems to me that counsel was correct when he suggested that s. 79 appears to use the terms serve, given and “issued to” as somewhat interchangeable terms. If not used interchangeably, it is extremely surprising that the Oireachtas would permit a document to be “issued to” a person by it being sent by registered post to an “address for service” given by the person concerned.

5.3. Whatever might be the meaning of the phrase “issued to” in the context of different statutory regimes, it seems to me to be clear that the Oireachtas, in enacting the PIAB Act, did not seek to make a material distinction between service of a document and the document being issued to the relevant person. Contrary to the tentative views which I expressed in Fogarty, I am, therefore, satisfied that, on a proper construction of the PIAB Act as a whole, an authorisation can only be said to have been issued to a person on the date when it actually is or is deemed to have been received by them. Clearly, if it is delivered directly to them or is left at their ordinary residence or an address which they have given, it can be said that it is received on the date when that action takes place. But it seems to me to follow that, where service by post is relied on, it is the date of actual or presumed delivery which is relevant for determining the date on which the document was “issued to” the claimant concerned. To take a different view would be to suggest, without in my view there being anything in the text of the legislation to suggest such an intention on the part of the Oireachtas, that different regimes were to apply on the entirely random basis that PIAB chose to affect personal delivery or leaving at a specified address, on the one hand, as opposed to post, on the other. While s. 50 speaks of an authorisation being “issued”, rather than “issued to”, I remain of the view expressed in Fogarty that s. 50 in that regard needs to be viewed in the context that an authorisation must, in accordance with the legislation viewed as a whole, be “issued to” a claimant.

5.4. That finding is, in my view, sufficient to determine this appeal. On its proper construction, s. 50 of the PIAB Act (interpreted in the light of the provisions of s. 14 and s. 79) uses the term “date of issue” to mean the date when someone actually receives an authorisation, or has it left at a specified address, or is deemed to receive it if sent by post. In that context it does not seem to me that the 1937 Act actually influences the proper interpretation of the PIAB Act. Rather, having decided that an authorisation is, for the purposes of s. 50 of the PIAB Act, taken to be issued when a person either has or is deemed to have received it (if sent by post) then the 1937 Act is relevant for the purposes of deciding when that event occurs.

5.5. In addition, I see no reason to exclude service by registered post from the ambit of service by post governed by s. 18 of the 1937 Act. In ordinary everyday usage, a document is said to have been posted whether it is sent by ordinary post or registered post. While it is true, as counsel for Mr. Reid pointed out, that the criteria for compliance set out in s. 18 of the 1937 Act only include proper addressing of the relevant letter and the payment of the appropriate charge, it does not seem to me that the absence of any reference to registration displaces the ordinary meaning of the term post which, as I have pointed out, applies equally to registered post as it does to ordinary post. In any event, s. 18 applies “unless the contrary intention appears”. A separate statutory requirement that a document in a particular case be sent by registered post seems to me, therefore, to, of itself, imply an additional criteria beyond proper address and postage payment being one to the effect that the post is registered as well.

5.6. On that basis it seems to me that Ryan J. was correct in his conclusions as to the interpretation of the date of issue of an authorisation for the purposes of s. 50 of the PIAB Act.

6. Conclusions
6.1. For those reasons I am satisfied that the proper construction of the PIAB Act, taken as a whole, is such that the date of an authorisation, for the purposes of s. 50, is, in a case where the document is issued to an individual by registered post under s. 79, the date on which that person would have received the document in the ordinary course of post.

6.2. It follows that the claim in this case is not, therefore, statute barred, and that Ryan J. was correct in so holding. On that basis I would dismiss the appeal.











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