Minister Flanagan announces plans to increase number of judges in Court of Appeal
Bill to propose number of ordinary judges to be 15
4 December 2018
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, has welcomed today’s approval by Government to bring forward legislation to increase the number of ordinary judges in the Court of Appeal from 9 to 15.
Minister Flanagan said “This Government is committed to ensuring that the courts have the necessary resources to ensure prompt and timely access to justice, so I am delighted that the Government agreed to my proposal to increase the number of judges in the Court of Appeal by six, bringing the number of judges in the Court to 16 (a President and 15 ordinary judges).”
The Minister continued: “It is clear that the Court of Appeal has a very significant volume of work, both in terms of the inherited caseload it received from the Supreme Court on establishment of the new court in 2014, as well as the volume of new cases it is receiving. I am concerned that with the current waiting times, the Court of Appeal may soon be facing a similar level of delay to that of the Supreme Court prior to 2014 which stood at over four years. I am satisfied that there is a strong and compelling case for additional judicial resources in the Court of Appeal which will address the waiting times for cases to be heard and will improve efficiency in the appellate process and the overall administration of justice”.
It will be necessary to amend primary legislation in order to increase the number of judges in the Court of Appeal.
The General Scheme of the Bill will now be published and submitted to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality for pre-legislative scrutiny.
Note for Editors:
The Court of Appeal was established under the Court of Appeal Act 2014, following a referendum of the people. It was the first major structural change to the Irish Courts in many decades and was specifically established in order to increase the appellate capacity of the superior courts. The present measures are being taken to ensure that original objective remains fully realisable.
The court consists of a President and nine ordinary judges. Appeal cases from the Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeal were transferred to the new Court of Appeal and it commenced hearing cases in November 2014.
The current waiting time for civil cases to be heard is approximately 20 months.
The current waiting time for criminal cases to be heard is six months.
The General Scheme of the Courts (Establishment and Constitution) (Amendment) Bill 2018 is a short bill consisting of only two Heads:
Head 1 is the substantive Head of the Bill which will provide for an amendment of the Courts (Establishment and Constitution) Act 1961 to increase the statutory number of ordinary judges of the Court of Appeal from 9 to 15; and
Head 2 provides for the short title of the Bill, which is a standard provision.