18 Aug 2022

Couple who brought newborn son from Ukraine awarded costs of High Court action

Couple who brought newborn son from Ukraine awarded costs of High Court action

An Irish couple who brought a High Court case over concerns that they might not be allowed to Ireland their new-born child from the Ukraine have been awarded the legal costs of their action against the State.

The action was brought by Mark Hedderman and his wife Sinead Hedderman Gallagher, who went to Ukraine earlier this month, for the birth of their son Theo Declan by surrogacy.

Their action centred over a requirement for arrivals from Ukraine to Ireland to enter into mandatory hotel quarantine, a measure designed to counter the Covid-19 pandemic, for up to 14 days.

The family feared that anyone travelling from a designated country such as Ukraine to Ireland would not be allowed board their flight unless they had pre booked a hotel, the court heard.  

The couple had claimed their failure to meet the pre-book requirement, especially in circumstances where there are no rooms available, was a breach of their Constitutional and European Convention rights.

They had claimed in proceedings against the State that there was no power to direct airlines to accept passengers without pre-booking.

They had sought a declaration their rights have been breached by a failure of the State to guarantee their return passage to Ireland.

They also claimed the blanket imposition of a requirement to book a quarantine hotel, regardless of their individual circumstances, constitutes a wholly disproportionate and unreasonable interference with the right to liberty.

The case was against the Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Transport, Health Ireland and the Attorney General.

When the case came before Mr Justice Brian O'Moore last week the court heard that new regulations had been put in place that would allow the family return home, and that they would not have to undergo mandatory hotel quarantine.

On Friday Micheál O’Higgins SC for the North Co Dublin-based family, said they returned home last Saturday, hours after the new regulations had been put in place by the state.

The family had ultimately succeeded in what they had set out to achieve, counsel said.

Counsel said that on consent the case could be struck out, and that an order for his client's legal costs could be made against the respondents.

Catherine Donnelly SC for the state said her side was not objecting to those orders.

Mr Justice O'Moore, who noted the novel points raised in the case and the fact that the action had resulted in changes to the regulations, said he was satisfied to make a costs order in favour of the family against the state.

The costs are estimated to be a five-figure sum.

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