A father and son have failed in a High Court challenge to €2,000 fixed penalty notices they received for allegedly breaching Covid regulations by travelling to Dublin Airport in 2021.
Nicolae and Florin Mazarache, of Clondalkin, Dublin, were travelling to Spain to visit family members on April 17th, 2021, when they were stopped at the airport by a garda.
They were later issued with the notices alleging they had “committed an offence of movement of persons” at a port or airport contrary to the 1947 Health Act (as amended).
A fixed payment of €2,000 was applied and if not paid within 28 days they would have to go before the District Court where, if convicted, could face a fine of up to €4,000 and/or one month’s imprisonment, or both.
The Mazaraches, of Lealand Meadows, Clondalkin, Dublin, chose not to pay the fixed penalty but instead brought judicial review proceedings.
They claimed, among other things, there was a fundamental unfairness in the failure of the fixed notices they received to either specify or particularise the offence they were alleged to have committed.
This information, it was argued, would enable them to determine and assess the allegations in order to decide whether to make the fixed penalty payment or contest them in the District Court.
The respondents, the Garda Commissioner, the DPP and the Minister for Health, opposed the challenge.
In a judgment dismissing their case, Ms Justice Nuala Jackson also lifted an injunction halting their prosecution in the District Court.
She said while the fixed notices given to them did not comply with the statutory requirements applicable to such notices, there was not a legal frailty arising from the deficiencies in the notices which resulted in required standards of fair procedures not being achieved.
Once a garda decided to invoke the fixed notice process, this became a precondition to prosecution and consequently any deficiencies in it were matters for the District Court to address, she said.