Govt may change law after Gilligan ruling

Wednesday 21 December 2005 20.10
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John Gilligan - Supreme Court ruling
John Gilligan - Supreme Court ruling
Michael McDowell - Says Govt may change laws
Michael McDowell - Says Govt may change laws

The Minister for Justice has said that the Government will change the law, if necessary, in the wake of today's ruling in the Supreme Court relating to the convicted drug dealer, John Gilligan.

The Supreme Court upheld a High Court ruling that the Special Criminal Court was not entitled to make an order for the confiscation of €17m from Gilligan.

The case was taken by the State which was hoping to overturn the High Court ruling.

Following the ruling, Michael McDowell said the Criminal Assets Bureau was there in any event, regardless of whether or not people were convicted to seize the proceeds of crime.

Giving the court's judgement, Mrs Justice Susan Denham said the Special Criminal Court is a unique court established under the constitution and legislation. 

She said its procedure limits some rights of an accused, especially his right to trial by jury.

Consequently, she said legislation should be strictly construed in so far as it extends the jurisdiction of the Special Criminal Court. Given the nature of the court, the judge said matters other than a trial may not be inferred into its jurisdiction.

Mrs Justice Denham said she was satisfied that the Special Criminal Court did not have the jurisdiction to make the orders in relation to the confiscation of the money.