On 29 November 2018, the Irish Revenue Commissioners issued a notice of tax assessment for €1.64 billion on an Irish subsidiary of Perrigo Company plc, an international US listed healthcare group. In February 2019, Perrigo brought proceedings in the Irish Commercial Court seeking judicial review of the decision to raise that assessment. 

Those judicial review proceedings had been listed for hearing for eight days commencing 21 April 2020.

However, as part of the measures to stem the spread of COVID-19, the Irish courts have put in place restrictions on court sittings which have meant that only extremely urgent matters are being heard.  

In light of this, it is understood from court filings that Perrigo and the Irish Revenue Commissioners had exchanged correspondence in relation to how the case should proceed. Perrigo had put forward proposals for a remote hearing or one organised to accommodate social distancing in the court room. However, the Irish Revenue Commissioners lawyer continued to seek an adjournment noting the difficulties associated with preparing for court while the current restrictions on movement are in place and also noted that legal personnel and client attendance at the trial should not be restricted.

Further to this correspondence, Judge Barniville of the Irish Commercial Court determined to hear both parties positions and hand down an ex tempore ruling on the matter on 7 April 2020. Judge Barniville determined that the case listed for 21 April 2020 be adjourned to be relisted for hearing after the current restrictions are lifted.  Notably, the judge also determined that the parties be granted liberty to apply for remote hearing if and when the courts have established arrangements for remote hearings.  He suggested that this case may be suitable for remote hearing and in particular noted that it is not a witness action but a judicial review. However, Judge Barniville emphasised that he was not expressing a concluded view on that matter and emphasised that while it is hoped that remote hearings may be possible for Commercial Court cases it is too early to say when that might be the case.  For now, the case is simply listed for mention on 5 May 2020.