Commission Welcomes Important Ruling in Anti-Social Behaviour Order Case

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (‘the Commission’) welcomes the Court of Appeal ruling concerning the making of civil orders restraining anti-social behaviour.

In this case, an anti-social behaviour order was made by the District Court against an individual who was later convicted and sentenced to four months imprisonment for breach of that order.

In its judgment delivered yesterday, the Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s ruling that the anti-social behaviour order in this case was vague and uncertain.

The Commission joined this case as amicus curiae (or ‘friend of the court’) and addressed the key human rights issues in the case, including the availability of judicial review, the requirement for legal certainty in terms of the anti-social behaviour order, and the statutory and constitutional requirement for proportionality in the framing of anti-social behaviour orders. What this means is that the use of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders has to be in line with our existing legal framework and must consider the rights of those on the receiving end of them.

The Court of Appeal held that judicial review remedy was available to the individual in this case. It also held that the anti-social behaviour order in this case violated the principle of legal certainty. Ms Justice Donnelly stated that:

“Applying the principle that an order that imposes an obligation to abide by it on pain of criminal sanction, must be clearly expressed and indicate precisely what the subject of the order is required to do or refrain from doing, I am satisfied that this civil order was correctly held by the High Court to violate the principle of legal certainty. 

While some of the reasons I so found may go further than the High Court in holding that the order was vague and impermissible, it is appropriate to do so in the hope of providing assistance to courts called upon to address these civil orders in the future.”

Sinéad Gibney, Chief Commissioner of the Commission stated:

“This is an important ruling from the Court of Appeal. An anti-social behaviour order can interfere with someone’s human and constitutional rights and we welcome this clarity provided by the Court of Appeal on the level of precision and certainty required when making such orders.”


For further information, please contact:
Sarah Clarkin, IHREC Communications Manager,
01 852 9641 / 087 468 7760
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Editor’s Note

The full written submissions made by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission as Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court) in this case are published at the following link:

The full text of the judgment by the Court of Appeal is available on the Courts Service of Ireland Website at the following link:

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.