Justice minister Charlie Flanagan welcomed Government approval of a new bill to increase the number of ordinary judges in the Court of Appeal from 9 to 15.
He said he was delighted the Government approved his proposal to increase the number of judges in the Court of Appeal by six, bringing the number of judges to 16 (a president and 15 ordinary judges).
“This will address the waiting times for cases and improve efficiency in the appeals process and in the administration of justice overall,” he said.
Both the President of the Court of Appeal and the Chief Justice had made the case for additional judges to address delays in cases coming before the courts and the consequential negative impact on access to justice and costs.
The bill provides for the amendment of the relevant primary legislation in order to increase the number of judges in the Court of Appeal.
Volume of cases
The minister added “It is clear that the Court of Appeal has a very significant volume of work, both in terms of the caseload it inherited from the Supreme Court on its establishment as a new court in 2014, and of the volume of new cases it is taking on in its own right.
“On the criminal side, the current waiting time is an acceptable six months. However on the civil side it is much longer.
“I do not want to see a situation where those waiting times could end up at a similar level to that of the Supreme Court prior to 2014. Waiting times then, were over four years.”
The bill will be published in the coming days.
The Court of Appeal was established under the Court of Appeal Act 2014.
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 is six months.
The General Scheme of the Courts (Establishment and Constitution) (Amendment) Bill 2018 is a short but purposeful 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,
- Head 2 provides for the short title of the Bill, which is a standard provision.