Solicitor Ammy Burke has clashed with a High Court judge for the second time in a span of just four days – this time after failing to fast-track her challenge to end her unfair dismissal claim.
During the hearing on the application, Ms. Justice Marguerite Bolger warned that she would have her microphone muted if she continued to interrupt Ms. Burke.
Today’s hearing, which took place online, saw a continuation of the heated exchange between the solicitor and the judge on Monday, when Justice Bolger asked Burke to challenge decisions made by the Adjudicating Officer of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). Discharged, but refused to declare the matter a matter of public interest.
“It is a sad day in Ireland when a High Court judge makes a decision that they know is wrong. Thank God there is a higher judge,” Ms. Burke told the judge today.
Ms. Justice Bolger responded, not for the first time, that if Ms. Burke did not like the decision, she could appeal it to the Court of Appeal.
Ms Burke was sacked in November 2019 from her job as a junior associate in the banking and finance division of leading law firm Arthur Cox.
The firm says this was due to the rift in her relationship with three senior partners, but Ms Burke claims her dismissal was unfair.
However, his unfair dismissal case at the WRC was ended in April by adjudication officer Kevin Benham, in what he described as “constant and deliberate interruption and disruption” by the solicitor’s mother, Martina Burke.
Ammy Burke is now challenging the decision made by Mr. Banham and others, including refusing to summon two witnesses and requiring the production of emails.
She was discharged earlier this week by Ms. Justice Bolger to bring up judicial review proceedings, but reprimanded the judge for remarking that the challenge “does not constitute a matter of public interest” and called for clarity on it. To refuse to allow the inclusion of a specific request. Application of the law around the summoning of witnesses.
The case was due to return to court in November, but Ms Burke made an application to the same judge today for an earlier return date.
He put forward two grounds, the first of which was that his case pertained to “extremely rare circumstances of the brief dismissal of a lawyer”.
Ms Burke said she had not been finding legal employment since her dismissal two and a half years ago. He said the dismissal and the WRC proceedings are having a significant impact on his career and any future employment prospects in the legal profession.
“As an employee, I had an exemplary and spotless record in Arthur Cox,” she said.
Ms Burke said if her High Court challenge is successful, there would be further hearings at the WRC and time was of the essence.
The second basis advanced was his belief that an expedited trial was in the public interest, given the related procedures used by the WRC in adjudicating claims of unfair dismissal.
“In the event of relief being granted, adjudication of all claims has serious implications for WRC processes,” argued Ms Burke.
She went on to reiterate her repeated comments on Monday, criticizing Ms. Justice Bolger’s observation that this was not a matter of public interest. He claimed that the statement was untrue and false as a matter of law and repeatedly asked for it to be withdrawn.
“You are an expert in employment law. I understand that you are an expert in employment law before being appointed to the Bench. So you are well aware that issues of public importance are raised by this judicial review. I will appreciate your statement on Monday. But again I am expressing serious concern.”
The judge told Ms Burke not to interrupt her when deciding on the application.
Ms. Justice Bolger began by pointing out that Ms. Burke was raising issues that had already been decided, but counsel again intervened and began talking to the judge.
“If you interrupt me once again while making your decision, I will ask the registrar to mute you,” said Ms. Justice Bolger.
The judge rejected the application for the earlier date of return saying that he did not accept that it was a matter of public interest.
The judge said that she appreciates that the dismissal of an employee is a matter of considerable distress, but the law does not permit any distinction between a lawyer and any other type of employee.
“You have to take your place in the same way as everyone who comes to this court,” the judge said.
After the decision was made, Ms Burke continued to criticize the judge.
“There are rules that apply to all of us. There are rules that apply to me, but there are rules that apply to you. You are also accountable,” she said.
Ms. Justice Bolger replied: “The ruling is over, so I’m going to end this hearing now. Good day Ms. Burke.”
As the judge logged off, Ms Burke said: “It’s a sad day.”
Ms Burke’s WRC case attracted considerable attention in April due to repeated objections and objections.
She alleged that she was unfairly dismissed over criticism from an Arthur Cox partner when she was left working until 2 a.m. while the colleagues were socializing.
Arthur Cox denied that she was wrongfully dismissive, arguing that there was a breakdown in her relationships with three senior partners. The WRC was told that the incidents involved Ms Burke “going” with a fellow Grenene Hennessy.
It was also heard that Ms Burke criticized another partner, Kevin Lynch, when he congratulated her on completing a deal. He is alleged to have told her that “if his team had been doing its job, he wouldn’t have taken that long for that transaction”.