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“Dr. Livingstone, I infer?


Henry Stanley got things wrong when he met Dr. Livingstone. On meeting him, he records, he said; “Dr. Livingstone, I presume? The Oxford Dictionary indicates that “presume”, as used by Stanley, conveys he is supposing that something is the case on the basis of probability. On his own account, he was being absurdly careful. As Stanley well knew, white men in that location at that time were unknown. So, of course, the man he was meeting was probably Livingstone. However, […]



The title means “Health Service Executive Clinical Trial Indemnity Form”. In Ireland a clinical trial (which covers the testing of proposed pharmaceutical products) must be approved by an Ethics committee (of a hospital, say) and the Irish Medicines Board. Because of the legal complications of supplying products on which, effectively, no assurances of safety can (or will) be given, it is standard practice for “the Hospital”, “the Authority”, “the Investigator” and “the Sponsor” to sign a Health Service Executive Clinical […]


Feeling Lousy

No, this post is not about hangovers. It’s about evidence. Ideas as to what is evidence have varied, somewhat, over time. (SPOILER ALERT) For instance, “Murder comes to Pemberley” by P. D. James,  features a trial scene. Mr. Wickham, a character from Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice” is on trial for murder. The implied date of the trial is approximately 1804. The UK lacked a police force at that time. The local magistrate has performed the police function and he […]


Don’t be so negative

In everyday life we must, and try to, say what we mean. This is doubly the case in giving evidence. Look at this: QUESTION;   You didn’t call out for help? REPLY:           No. By this reply, the witness has now sworn that he/she DID call out for help. We see this if we express the intended reply at length – “Yes, I did not call out for help” (or, “I did not call out for help”). Counsel must be careful of […]


Sack the Minister

When the Food Safety Authority of Ireland tested a range of Irish frozen beef burgers, purchased from Irish and British supermarkets, it found evidence that they contained horse meat and/or pig meat. It found that the source of the offending meat was the respective manufacturer of the beef burger. In the case of Silvercrest Foods Ltd. almost 30% of one burger constituted horse meat. These facts were sufficient evidence to prosecute the various manufacturers (and the retailers). Prosecutions are necessary […]


Talk to the Hand!

“It has become a growing practice for solicitors acting for parties in cases before the courts (and, I would venture to suggest, in particular, the Commercial Court) to copy correspondence to the court. Some lay litigants have adopted the same course.”


Flying a Balloon?

The Gardaí have had a history of their own difficulties with search warrants and the like.



If the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico happened in Irish waters who would be held responsible? The question is intentionally ambiguous. It seems to refer to a functioning “administration” which would search out culprits and assign blame and punishment. It seems also to refer to the principles by which blame and perhaps punishment would be assigned. The first aspect might lead to a rant and should be avoided; it is the second aspect to which I refer, […]


You Know What I Mean…

Readers will have seen reference HERE to a plea in a medical negligence case as to the meaning of a “consent” signed by the patient (who was having an operation to make her sterile). In Fitzpatrick v National Maternity Hospital [2008] IEHC 62 the Defendant claimed that the mother (in labour) declined an episiotomy or a forceps-assisted birth (leading to the damage to the infant). The court rejected this plea, and rejected the evidence of the Defendant, intended to evidence […]


Accident: Frequency (The Law of Averages)

Road traffic accidents are common, but we rarely witness them happening. If we made a judgment of their frequency based on our experience, we would be wrong.