European Parliament Elections Act, 1997

Questioning of European elections.

21.—(1) A European election may, and may only, be questioned by a petition to the High Court.

(2) (a) Subject to paragraph (b), a petition shall not be presented to the High Court unless that court, on application made to it in that behalf by or on behalf of the person proposing to present the petition not later than 7 days after the declaration by the returning officer of the result of the election, by order grants leave to the person to do so.

(b) Where a person applying for leave to present a petition to the High Court alleges bribery and specifically alleges a payment or other consideration to have been made or to have passed after the result of the European election was declared by the returning officer, notwithstanding the fact that another petition relating to the same election may have been previously presented or tried, the application to the High Court may be made within the seven days next after the day on which the said payment or consideration is alleged to have been made or to have passed.

(c) An application for leave to present a petition may be made by any person who is registered or entitled to be registered as a European elector in the constituency.

(3) The High Court shall not grant leave under subsection (2) unless it is satisfied—

(a) that there is prima facie evidence of a matter referred to in subsection (8) in relation to which the petition questions the election concerned, and

(b) that the said matter is such that it is likely to have affected the result of the election.

(4) A petition shall be presented by being lodged in the Central Office of the High Court not later than 3 days after the grant of leave by the High Court under subsection (2).

(5) (a) Subject to paragraph (b) and rule 131(2) of the Second Schedule , a petition shall not be accepted for lodgement with the court unless the petitioner lodges with the petition security in the sum of £5,000 for costs which may become payable by the petitioner.

(b) Where the court is satisfied that a petitioner is unable to lodge the amount specified in paragraph (a) or that to require a petitioner to lodge the said amount would cause the petitioner serious hardship, the court may require the petitioner to lodge such lesser amount as the court considers appropriate.

(6) Where a petition has been lodged with the court as soon as may be the petitioner shall give a copy of the petition—

(a) to any person to whose election the petition relates,

(b) to the Minister,

(c) to the Clerk of the Dáil,

(d) to the returning officer for the constituency to which the petition relates, and

(e) except in the case of a petition presented by the Director of Public Prosecutions, to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

(7) The provisions of Part XV of the Second Schedule shall have effect as regards a petition.

(8) (a) A European election may be questioned on the grounds that the result of the election was likely to have been affected by:

(i) want of eligibility under section 11 ;

(ii) the commission of an offence referred to in Part XIV of the Second Schedule ;

(iii) obstruction of or interference with or other hindrance to the conduct of the election;

(iv) mistake or other irregularity;

(v) failure by the returning officer or any local returning officer to complete or otherwise to conduct the election in accordance with law.

(b) No European election shall be declared invalid by reason of non-compliance with any provision contained in this Act or any mistake in the use of forms provided for in this Act if it appears to the High Court that the election was conducted in accordance with the principles laid down in this Act taken as a whole and that such non-compliance or mistake was not likely to have affected the result of the election.

(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, a petition shall not be dismissed on account of an informality in its contents which does not materially affect its substance.

(9) Any party to a petition may appeal on a question of law to the Supreme Court against a decision of the High Court on the petition and, subject to the foregoing, the decision of the High Court shall be final and not appealable.

(10) At the trial of a petition the court shall determine the matter at issue in the petition and, if it does not dismiss the petition, shall where appropriate include in its order determining the matter at issue either—

(a) a declaration of the correct result of the election concerned, or

(b) if it considers that it is unable to determine the correct result of the election, a declaration that the election or a specified part thereof was void together with a statement of its reasons for making the declaration.

(11) Where the court declares that the whole or any part of a European election was void, a fresh election shall be held in accordance with the provisions of this Act to fill the resulting vacancy or vacancies in the Parliament and the poll at the fresh election shall be taken on such day, being a day within the period of three months beginning on the date of the court's order, as the Minister by order appoints; provided that it shall not be obligatory under this subsection to hold a fresh election if a European election otherwise is due to be held in the State within the period of six months next following the said date.