Supplemental provisions relating to oral hearings.
135.—(1) The Board or an employee of the Board duly authorised by the Board may assign a person to conduct an oral hearing of an appeal or referral on behalf of the Board.
(2) The person conducting an oral hearing of any appeal or referral shall have discretion as to the conduct of the hearing and, in particular, shall—
(a) conduct the hearing without undue formality,
(b) decide the order of appearance of persons at the hearing,
(c) permit any person to appear in person or to be represented by another person,
(d) hear a person other than a person who has made submissions or observations to the Board in relation to the appeal or referral where it is considered appropriate in the interests of justice to allow the person to be heard.
(3) A person conducting an oral hearing of any appeal or referral may require any officer of a planning authority to give to him or her any information in relation to the appeal or referral which he or she reasonably requires for the purposes of the appeal or referral, and it shall be the duty of the officer to comply with the requirement.
(4) A person conducting an oral hearing of any appeal or referral may take evidence on oath or affirmation and for that purpose may administer oaths or affirmations, and a person giving evidence at any such hearing shall be entitled to the same immunities and privileges as if he or she were a witness before the High Court.
(5) (a) Subject to paragraph (b), the Board in relation to an oral hearing of any appeal or referral may, by giving notice in that behalf in writing to any person, require that person to do either or both of the following:
(i) to attend at such time and place as is specified in the notice to give evidence in relation to any matter in question at the hearing;
(ii) to produce any books, deeds, contracts, accounts, vouchers, maps, plans, documents or other information in his or her possession, custody or control which relate to any such matter.
(b) Where a person is given a notice under paragraph (a):
(i) the Board shall pay or tender to any person whose attendance is required such reasonable subsistence and travelling expenses to be determined by the Board in accordance with the rates for the time being applicable to senior planning authority officials;
(ii) any person who in compliance with a notice has attended at any place shall, save in so far as the reasonable and necessary expenses of the attendance have already been paid to him or her, be paid those expenses by the Board, and those expenses shall, in default of being so paid, be recoverable as a simple contract debt in any court of competent jurisdiction.
(6) Every person to whom a notice under subsection (5) has been given who refuses or wilfully neglects to attend in accordance with the notice or who wilfully alters, suppresses, conceals or destroys any document or other information to which the notice relates or who, having so attended, refuses to give evidence or refuses or wilfully fails to produce any document or other information to which the notice relates shall be guilty of an offence.
(7) Where any person—
(a) wilfully gives evidence which is material to the oral hearing and which he or she knows to be false or does not believe to be true,
(b) by act or omission, obstructs or hinders the person conducting the oral hearing in the performance of his or her functions,
(c) refuses to take an oath or to make an affirmation when legally required to do so by a person holding the oral hearing.
(d) refuses to answer any question to which the person conducting an oral hearing may legally require an answer, or
(e) does or omits to do any other thing which, if the inquiry had been by the High Court, would have been contempt of that court,
the person shall be guilty of an offence.
(8) (a) An oral hearing may be conducted through the medium of the Irish or the English language.
(b) Where an oral hearing relates to development within the Gaeltacht, the hearing shall be conducted through the medium of the Irish language, unless the parties to the appeal or referral to which the hearing relates agree that the hearing should be conducted in English.
(c) Where an oral hearing relates to development outside the Gaeltacht, the hearing shall be conducted through the medium of the English language, unless the parties to the appeal or referral to which the hearing relates agree that the hearing should be conducted in the Irish language.