Republican Thomas Murphy has begun a High Court action to prevent his trial on tax evasion charges from taking place in the non-jury Special Criminal Court.

Mr Murphy, of Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, Co Louth, is charged with nine offences of failing to make tax returns between 1996 and 2004.

Michael O'Higgins, SC, is arguing that the legislation allowing the Director of Public Prosecutions to decide that some offences, that do not relate to 'subversive' activities, can be tried in the Special Criminal Court, is unconstitutional, or incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The legislation allows the DPP to issue a certificate directing the trial of a matter before the Special Criminal Court on the grounds that the ordinary courts would be inadequate to achieve the administration of justice and the preservation of peace and order.

Mr O'Higgins said there was no opportunity for a person who is sent for trial at the Special Criminal Court under such circumstances to appeal that decision.

The action is expected to take around three days.