Recommendations for an increase in judicial resources and associated support welcomed by the Courts Service and Government

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Recommendations for an increase in judicial resources and associated support welcomed by the Courts Service and Government

Published 16 marzo 2023

The Report of the Judicial Planning Working Group together with the OECD Report on Modernising Staffing and Court Management Practices in Ireland, published last month, have set out a number of recommendations to increase efficiency in the judiciary and Courts service, including the appointment of additional judges across the various jurisdictions. 

The Report has been welcomed by both the Government and the Judiciary, and has met with support from the Bar Council and Law Society.  A statement on behalf of the Chief Justice and Presidents of the Court of Appeal, High Court, Circuit Court and District Court states that “the Government’s immediate acceptance of the Working Group Report, and its actions in moving to create additional judicial positions and fill them, is also and, in itself, a very important and welcome development.  It is a real and tangible recognition of the fact that a functioning justice system is not a luxury but is a critical component of a modern liberal democratic society which is founded on the rule of law.”

The recommendations set out in the Working Group’s Report highlight the efforts being made to continue the reform of the system for the administration of justice and come following on from the recently published Implementation Plan of Civil Justice Efficiencies and Reform Measures in 2022 (see our previous article on the Implementation Plan here).

The Report recognises the acute need for increased efficiencies in the judicial system, particularly through improved data collection and information systems technology, as well as the requirement for the appointment additional judges.  The Report recognises this growing need owing to the increasing complexity of cases being brought before the Courts, rapidly increasing population growth, and the backlog in both civil and criminal cases that are extant before the Courts.

The Judicial Planning Working Group and OECD Reports make a number of wide-reaching recommendations, including:

  • The appointment of 44 additional judges by 2024 (we note that the Department of Justice have recently confirmed that 24 judges will be appointed this year).
  • Increased Court term and sittings with staggered vacation periods to allow trials to be scheduled over a longer working year.
  • Greater powers and supports for Court Presidents in managing judicial resources, as well as greater case management power given to the Master of the High Court and County Registrars in the Circuit Court.
  • Restructuring of the District and Circuit Courts with the District Court restructured into a smaller number of larger districts that are aligned with the Circuit Court, and a review of the Circuit Court geographical areas.
  • Increase in data collection methods to support the proper allocation of resources through the use of data and metrics to assess judicial workloads and trends.
  • Streamlining of case management systems in use in the Courts and judicial training on case management.
  • Increase in the use of technology in the Courts with full introduction of e-filing.

The proposed reforms and recommendations of the Working Group and OECD to increase efficiencies and improve work practices, data collection, and case management in the Courts are welcomed and are a reflection of the growing need to accommodate the evolving needs of the country and the administration of justice.  The findings of the Working Group are illustrative of the point that an effective court system that provides administration of justice in a timely and accessible manner is of importance to a modern and functioning Irish society and economy. 

An increase in the number of judges available to hear cases and an increase in the resources available to the Courts services overall will mean that cases will progress with more speed through the Irish legal system and this is likely to result in a reduction in legal costs.  We look forward to further discussion and implementation of the recommendations in the coming future.  


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