Is IDA’s compulsory purchase of home and land proportionate to public interest in the creation of jobs?

Bord-Job-CreationOn Thursday 5th of November the Court will give judgment in Reid v Industrial Development Agency & Ors. This is an appeal of the High Court decision (here) by Hedigan J refusing Reid’s application for certiorari of the IDA’s decision to compulsorily purchase his home and farmlands to provide sites for foreign investment in advanced manufacturing.

Background

This case relates to the IDA’s first exercise of its statutory power under s 16 of the Industrial Development Act 1986 to compulsorily acquire land. Reid’s home is a 250 year old protected structure which has been in his family’s ownership for over 100 years and is situated on 72 acres of farmland bordering a Special Area of Conservation. However, the land is situated close to the Intel complex in Leixlip, County Kildare, and although it is not zoned for industrial development, and there was land in the area which was zoned for industrial use, the IDA identified it as suitable for the provision of sites for advanced manufacturing. The IDA approached Reid with an offer to purchase the house and land. When he refused, the IDA began the CPO process. That involved a five day hearing presided over by a senior counsel at which Reid was allowed legal representation and to make submissions and objections which formed part of a report. When the IDA decided to make the CPO, Reid applied to the High Court for an order of certiorari quashing that decision. He challenged the the decision on a number of grounds, including:

  • that s 16 was unconstitutional under Article 40.3, 40.5 and 43;
  • that it breached his Article 8 ECHR rights;
  • that, as the land was zoned agricultural and beside an SAC, the IDA had not demonstrated the development was likely to proceed;
  • that the IDA was acting as judge in its own case; and,
  • objective bias by the decision maker.

Hedigan J ruled against him on all grounds, including the application of the proportionality test, as outlined by Denham CJ in Meadows v Minister for Justice:

(a) the means must be rationally connected to the objective of the legislation and not arbitrary, unfair or based on irrational considerations;

(b) the rights of the person must be impaired as little as possible; and

(c) the effect on rights should be proportional to the objective.

Applying that test, Hedigan J held that (a) the proposed CPO was provided for in law and was intended to achieve a legislative objective (industrial development); (b) that, as the IDA was proposing to allow Reid to remain in his home for a transitional period, it was minimising the effect of the CPO upon him; and (c) that the public interest in the creation of jobs outweighed Reid’s individual rights.

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