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Bill on court delays passes all stages
(Pic: RollingNews.ie)

25 Apr 2024 / legislation Print

Bill on court delays passes all stages

A bill that creates a statutory right to the conclusion of court proceedings within a reasonable time has passed all stages in the Oireachtas.

The bill provides for a declaration and, where appropriate, compensation in cases where people experience undue delays in the justice system.

The Court Proceedings (Delays) Bill also provides for the establishment of an independent assessment process, under the aegis of the Department of Justice, to assess claims for breaches of the new right.

McFarlane case

The Department of Justice says that the legislation addresses a European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgment in McFarlane v Ireland (2010) and future delayed cases.

The State alleged that Brendan ‘Bik’ McFarlane was involved in an IRA kidnapping in 1983, but he did not go on trial for that alleged crime until 2008. He was subsequently acquitted.

At the ECtHR, McFarlane alleged that there were unjustified delays to the criminal proceedings brought against him.

The court found that there had been violations of article 13 (right to an effective remedy) and article 6 (right to a fair trial within a reasonable time) of the European Convention on Human Rights and awarded him costs and damages.


“The model provided for in the bill facilitates the fair and objective assessment of whether an individual’s right to the conclusion of proceedings within reasonable time has been breached and, where it has, whether compensation is appropriate,” said James Browne (Minister for State with responsibility for law reform and youth justice).

“The model provides for a declaration and, where appropriate, compensation more quickly and less expensively than court litigation,” he added.

The scheme is expected to begin operating in 2025. The department says that detailed consultation on issues such as structures, processes, costs, and the establishment of the role of Chief Assessor, is taking place in advance of the commencement of the legislation.

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