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Pandemic measures reduced court-user anxiety

14 Dec 2021 / courts Print

Pandemic measures reduced court-user anxiety

Measures taken in courts during the pandemic, such as the staggering of lists, have had a positive impact on court users, according to the Courts Service annual report.

Victim Support at Court (VSAC) gave evidence this year to a joint Oireachtas committee on justice that less time waiting around to give evidence and less crowded court spaces, plus the option to provide evidence remotely, had had a positive impact on the experiences of their clients.

VSAC also noted that these measures had reduced the anxiety of clients.

And there were 18,528 remote court appearances from Irish Prison Service locations from January to November 2021, compared with a total of 2,185 in 2015.

Digital first

The annual report says that the Courts Service now faces the challenge of ensuring that it takes forward the best of pandemic experiences to fulfil the vision for 2030 of a more human-centred, digital-first courts system, in collaboration with the judiciary and justice partners.

Over 100 courtrooms are now installed with video-conferencing facilities – a 60% increase in the availability of this technology compared with 2020.

This will continue into 2022 with the rollout of a modern desktop solution for all judiciary and Courts Service staff.

Plans to expand cashless-payments options to court offices across the country are also underway, with terminals recently installed at five pilot sites.

Digital jury platform

The development of a digital jury platform is also underway. This will digitise responses to allow for real-time updates to the public.

The platform will give immediate information on changes in times, dates, or jury cancellations – as well as immediate electronic responses to requests for excusals, resulting in a more efficient process.

A charge-sheets project progressed to pilot stage in Cork and Ennis in 2021, which will result in significant time saving on data entry, the report says.

The preliminary business plan for the family-courts complex at Hammond Lane in Dublin 7 was also submitted this year.

In early 2022, the Courts Service will deliver an ‘estate strategy’, following the launch of its inaugural environment sustainability strategy last month.


The Judicial Planning Working Group and the Legal Practitioners Working Group have been established and will receive updates on the Courts Service modernisation programme, as well as providing feedback and engaging with users who can give feedback, as well as testing new systems.

Both working groups will promote new measures, when introduced, to other users and the wider justice community.

An Access to Justice Working Group will be established in 2022, comprising representatives from the different advocacy, societal, civil and minority groups, as well as user groups.

The Courts Service now has 1,145 staff at work, with 160 new recruits in 2021. A total of 4,020 enquiries were received in 2021 through Courts.ie. 

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland