The Supreme Court has granted the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) liberty to exercise its amicus curiae (friend of the court) function in joined cases that concern the admissibility of evidence and the right to a fair trial.
The cases are: The People (DPP) v Caolan Smyth and The People (DPP) v Gary McAreavey.
Both appeals centre on the use of mobile-phone records to secure convictions.
IHREC says that it will assist the court on whether it is appropriate to develop the rules on the admissibility of illegally and unconstitutionally obtained evidence, as set out in DPP v JC.
In this case, the Court of Appeal endorsed a balancing of the rights engaged, when assessing the admissibility of the evidence.
“The question arises as to whether it is consistent with the exclusionary rule, set out in DPP v JC, to carry out such a proportionality or balancing-of-rights assessment, if evidence is found to have been gathered with a conscious or reckless disregard of rights,” IHREC says.
The case will be heard over two days in the Supreme Court in April.
Sinéad Gibney (Chief Commissioner of IHREC, pictured) stated: “This case raises important issues regarding the administration of justice and the protection of fair trial rights under the Constitution and EU law.”
Under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014, the commission can apply for liberty to appear as an amicus curiae before the superior courts in proceedings that involve, or are concerned with, the human rights or equality rights of any person.