Surge in cases at small claims court over faulty phones

FAULTY smartphones have emerged as a major cause of complaints by disgruntled consumers in the small claims courts.

The new generation of mobile phones, along with other electrical products, account for a large and growing number of consumer cases in the courts.
  The small claims court provides unhappy consumers with an inexpensive and relatively fast way to resolve disputes without the need to employ a solicitor.
  There have been big increases in recent years in complaints relating to cars, furniture and doors/roofs.
  The holiday sector has far fewer complaints than five years ago, although there was a significant increase in such complaints last year.
  Figures show there was a total of 3,947 complaints received in the small claims court in 2010, compared with 3,633 in 2009, up 23%. Trends for the main sources of complaints in recent years show:
  * 416 complaints in relation to cars, compared with 359 in 2009. This number has risen steadily in recent years: from 251 in 2007 and 207 in 2006.
  * 391 complaints on electrical goods, compared with 361 in 2009. This number has increased  from 341 in 2007 and 219 in 2005.
  * 376 cases regarding furniture, compared with 343 in 2009. This figures has risen from 311 in 2007, 207 in 2005 and 133 in 2003.
  * 226 cases relating to mobile phones, compared with 185 in 2009. Before 2009, mobiles phones didn’t feature as a separate category, reflecting the low number of related complaints.
  * 218 complaints about audio/computer equipment, compared with 192 in 2009, 172 in 2007 and 153 in 2005.
  * 151 cases regarding doors and roofs, compared with 135 in 2009, 82 in 2007 and 60 in 2995
  There was an increase in the number of holiday-related complaints: 183 last year, compared with 142 in 2009.
  However, the number has dropped dramatically from 403 in 2008, 393 in 2006 and 360 in 2004.
  There were the same number of cases in relation to dry cleaners in the last two years (97) — a significant drop from 2008 (220), but more in line with the previous two years (107).
  Applications that were referred to the district court rose from 584 in 2009 to 731 in 2010.
  The registrars at small claims courts settled 32% of cases in 2010 — 1,251 cases, compared to 1,200 in 2009.
  Decrees by default, which are granted where the person against whom the claim is made does not respond, increased by 23%, from 281 to 345.
  Decrees were granted in 322 (44%) of the 731 cases referred to the district court in 2010. Some 77 cases (11%) were dismissed and the remaining 322 (45%) were struck out or withdrawn.
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Forty years later, Gay Switchboard Ireland is still needed

GAY SWITCHBOARD IRELAND is now in its 4oth year of operation and a new website has been launched to mark the anniversary.

The phoneline, which began as Tel-A-Friend in 1974, offers support and a listening ear to members of the LGBT community.

Gay Switchboard Ireland say that LGBT people regularly face stigma and isolation and point to a 2013 study by the Royal College of Surgeons which said that they are more than seven times more likely to have experienced suicidal ideation.

They also say that a recent UK report showed that over 40 per cent of young gay people have considered suicide.

Minister for Communications Pat Rabbittee will tomorrow visit the Outhouse LGBT Community Centre on Capel Street in Dublin to launch the new website.

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Column: Building a bigger Cork prison with doubled-up cells is completely senseless

THE BUILDING OF a new prison to replace the current Cork Prison, which is completely unfit for purpose, is long overdue. Since 1993, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) CPT’s description of conditions at the prison in 2010, makes for stark reading:

The poor conditions were exacerbated by the lack of in-cell sanitation. The situation was particularly bad in those cells being used to hold two or three prisoners on protection, as they could spend up to 23 hours locked up together in the cell. The air in a number of these cells was rank and humid. In one cell in C Block, three prisoners on protection who were accommodated together did not possess a chamber pot and had to share a bottle for the purpose of urinating; if necessary, they defecated into a plastic bag. In the CPT’s view, apart from representing a health hazard, such treatment is degrading.

It’s worth remembering that prisoners also eat all their meals in these squalid conditions. In this context, action on Cork Prison is urgent, welcome, and should not be delayed any longer.

However, the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) is dismayed that the opportunity to align with best practice and plan for single occupancy of cells has been missed. Coming at a time when crime rates are decreasing and the numbers in prison are being reduced, IPRT strongly believes that the decision to build a larger prison, with doubling-up planned for most of the cells, is misguided.

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Generation gap narrows as over-55s make fastest switch to smartphones

OLDER people are switching to smartphones faster than anyone else, a senior technology forecaster has said.

Deloitte‘s head of technology research, Paul Lee, told the Irish Independent that the over-55s were now the fastest growing segment of the smartphone market, with one in two older people expected to have a smartphone by the end of the year.

“It’s a natural progression and one that we’re seeing now as older people start to replace their phones,” said Mr Lee.

“Ownership isn’t as high as in younger age categories but it will still make up half of over-55s by year-end – a 25pc increase from 2013.”

It worked for NYC but could ‘community courts’ tackle small-time crime in Dublin?

IN 1993, THE first community court was set up in midtown Manhattan to deal with some of the crimes on the lower end of the spectrum like vandalism, drug taking and theft.

More than ten years on, this has been hailed as a success in helping to make the streets of New York safe to walk down again and business groups here are now calling for the government to set up a similar system in Dublin.

This week the Dublin City Business Association (DCBA) is hosing a seminar to discuss how these courts could work in Dublin and why they are so desperately needed here. Along with experts on the topic, they will also appear before the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, having pushed for this initiative for the last ten years.

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Ireland’s compliance with EU law-2012 report

Ireland’s compliance with EU law-2012 report

22/10/2013 18:36:57

There were 39 infringement cases open against Ireland at the end of 2012, Ireland’s performance was tenth best in the EU 27 (with Slovenia). The Commission launched 14 new infringement cases against Ireland in 2012 by sending a letter of formal notice. Of the 39 infringement cases, 11 were in environment, 8 were in taxation, 6 were in energy and there were 14 in other policy areas. The 30th Annual Report on monitoring the application of EU law shows how Member States are performing in applying EU law.


Ireland is third in the EU for transposing Directives, with only 8 late transposition cases at the end of 2012. There were 110 complaints about Ireland made to the European Commission in 2012, the eleventh lowest in the EU. The areas in which most complaints were received were environment, justice, and the internal market.

Among the key infringement proceedings taken against Ireland by the European Commission in 2012 were:

  • Lack of transparency of conditions for access to the natural gas transmission networks
  • Alleged failure to protect peat bogs
  • Restrictions on foreign travel agencies irrespective of their country of establishment
  • Separation of accounts of railway undertakings and railway infrastructure managers
  • Restrictive exit tax for companies when they cease to be tax residents
  • Discriminatory tax exemption of termination payments
  • Reduced VAT rate on race horses and greyhounds

Ireland’s performance was below average in its reference group: Lithuania had 22 open infringement cases, Denmark had 27, Slovakia 30. However, it was better than Finland’s (43). Ireland ended the year with fewer infringement cases than in 2010 (58) and 2011 (42). The following chart shows the policy areas in which Ireland was most frequently subject to infringement procedures:

Graph showing breakdown of Ireland's 39 infringement cases

The Commission brought one case against Ireland before the Court in 2012 (there were two referrals in 2011), because the conditions for accessing the natural gas transmission networks were not transparent enough and because Ireland failed to take effective remedial action. In Ireland’s reference group, there were no referrals against Lithuania and Denmark. There was one referral against Slovakia and six against Finland.

The Commission referred Ireland to the Court with a request for financial sanctions under Article 260(2) TFEU because it failed to remedy its non-compliance with EU rules on assessing various projects’ environmental effects.

The Commission opened eight infringement procedures against Ireland for late transposition of various directives in 2012 (there were 28 in 2011), which shows significant improvement in this area. Ireland’s performance was the very good in its reference group: better than that of Lithuania, Denmark and Finland (10, 17 and 21 new late transposition cases, respectively), only Slovakia performed better (7). With 8 open late transposition cases by the end of 2012, Ireland ranked 3rd in the EU-27.

The policy area in which Ireland faced challenges in transposing EU directives was health and consumers (three late transposition cases).

The Commission received 110 complaints against Ireland in 2012, the eleventh-lowest figure in the EU 27.

The areas in which most complaints were received were: environment (43 complaints, mainly on environmental impact assessment, waste water treatment, nature protection – Natura 2000); justice (28, especially on free movement of people); and internal market (11, many on public procurement, regulated professions). Other complaints concerned amongst others, the principle of free movement of goods (use of label of origin) and direct taxation (termination of payments).


The Commission and the Irish authorities were working on 43 open files in EU Pilot at the end of 2012, a much lower number than at the end of 2011 (118 open files). The Commission opened 40 new files on Irish issues in 2012. Ireland’s average EU Pilot response time (78 days) did not meet the 10-week target (75 days in 2011).

Ireland introduced several measures to ensure compliance with EU law in 2012. For example, it put in place measures to ensure that the National Development Plan conforms to the relevant environmental legislation; it implemented the First Railway Package; and it brought its direct taxation legislation in line with EU law by eliminating the discriminatory aspects of agricultural tax relief. Accordingly, these case were closed.

The Court imposed financial penalties on Ireland for failure to comply with two judgments on environmental laws. The first judgment concerned projects that were likely to have an impact on the environment, but which were not subject to any prior environmental assessment. In its other judgment, the Court found that Ireland had failed to fully adopt the measures necessary to implement the previous judgment on the incorrect transposition of waste legislation. The Court took into account the economic situation and in particular the recent trends in inflation and the GDP at the time of the Court’s examination of the facts when it calculated Ireland’s penalty.
Further Information:

From 23 October, the full Annual Report will be available here.

Last update: 23/10/2013