By Ann O’Loughlin
A man says he was defamed when he was told by a barman that a €10 note he used to pay for a pint of lager was fake, the High Court has heard.
Leonard Nolan (aged 53) sued Laurence Lounge Ltd, trading as Grace’s Pub of Rathmines, Dublin, for alleged defamation in the pub on April 24, 2013. He was awarded €5,000 plus costs in the Circuit Court in 2016.
The pub appealed to the High Court which today adjourned the matter to next week for legal submissions.
Mr Nolan, a fast food delivery man, of Pearse Gardens, Sallynoggin, Co Dublin, told the court he went into the pub on his way home at around 8.30pm He ordered a pint of lager and put a €10 note on the counter.
“Rather than fulfill my order, the barman decided to pick up the note and holding it aloft said you can clearly see that is a fake”, he said.
Asked by his counsel Jeremy Maher how he felt: “First I was nervous then I was devastated, words could not describe what I felt at being called a cheat”.
He said he told the barman he got the tenner from the the post office, that it was “a reliable source and that note is good”.
Mr Nolan said there were around 10 other people in this pub, with two men sitting very close at the counter. He said the barman was speaking in a loud voice.
He said he went to Rathmines Garda Station, which is just across the road from the pub, where a garda took the note from him, went away and about four minutes later returned and said “that note is perfect, you can spend it anywhere you like”.
He returned to the bar and told the barman what the garda had said. He asked the barman to sign the note but he refused and told him to leave. Next day, he went to his solicitor.
Cross-examined by Barry M Ward BL, for Grace’s, Mr Nolan said as a food delivery man, when taking cash from a customer he would have to be “110% sure” a note was fake before he would question someone over it. If he did, he would do it in a discreet way and not the way the barman did it with him.
The barman, Desmond Bond, who has worked in Grace’s for 13 years, told the court he said to Mr Nolan it was a “fake note, where did you get that”.
He said Mr Nolan said he got it “a bookies or a shop” and he told him to take it back there.
He said he knew it was not a genuine note because it did not have a silver strip in it. He also disputed that the note produced in court was the one Mr Nolan presented on the night. He said he made a little tear in the top of the note he was handed when he was checking it and the note in court did not have that tear.
He believed he dealt with the matter as discreetly as possible.
He disagreed, under cross examination, that for whatever reason he took an instant dislike to Mr Nolan and decided he was going to accuse him of tendering a fake note.
Gardaí Aaron Lawlor and Andrew O’Sullivan told the court they were on duty in Rathmines station that night and nobody came in about a counterfeit note. They denied there was a machine in Rathmines station for testing counterfeit notes as claimed by Mr Nolan’s side.
Mr Justice Michael McGrath said he wanted to hear legal submissions from both sides and he adjourned the case to next week.
One of the defences is that this was an occasion of qualified privilege whereby a statement to someone with an interest in receiving such information is protected as long as it is not motivated by malice.