The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD today announced that a Group, to be chaired by the President of the High Court Mr Justice Peter Kelly, would be set up to review and reform the administration of civil justice in the State.
The Tánaiste said:
“I am pleased that the President of the High Court Mr Justice Peter Kelly has offered to chair the Group and I am happy to confirm that my Department, having lead overall responsibility for courts policy matters and for courts legislation, will play an active part in the review.”
The Group is to report to the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality within two years. The proposed review is endorsed by the Chief Justice who agrees that such an exercise would be very worthwhile.
The Tánaiste continued “The aim of the Review is to deliver a more efficient and effective Irish legal system in regard to the area of civil justice”.
The Group will make recommendations for changes with a view to improving access to civil justice in the State, promoting early resolution of disputes, reducing the cost of litigation, creating a more responsive and proportionate system and ensuring better outcomes for court users.
Note for Editors:
The proposal is in keeping with the Programme for Government commitments which include:
“A modern legal system must be able to respond to the changing values and attitudes of our society, resolve issues and promote equality. Through the implementation of a progressive law reform programme we can strengthen our Constitution, rule of law and our justice system for the benefit of everyone.;
We will commission an annual study on court efficiency and sitting times, benchmarked against international standards, to provide accurate measurements for improving access to justice; and
We will propose legislation to reduce excessive delays to trials and court proceedings including pre-trial hearings.”
The current system of civil justice is largely derived from the Judicature (Ireland) Act 1877.
The aim of the review is to examine the current administration of civil justice in the State with a view to:
(a) Improving access to justice;
(b) Reducing the cost of litigation including costs to the State;
(c) Improving procedures and practices so as to ensure timely hearings;
(d) The removal of obsolete, unnecessary or over-complex rules of procedure;
(e) Reviewing the law of discovery;
(f) Encouraging alternative methods of dispute resolution;
(g) Reviewing the use of electronic methods of communications including e-litigation;
(h) Examining the extent to which pleadings and submissions and other court documents should be available or accessible on the internet;
(i) Identifying steps to achieve more effective outcomes for court users with particular emphasis on vulnerable court users including children and young persons, impecunious litigants who ineligible for civil legal aid and wards of court
The remit is currently being finalised and it will take into account the body of work and range of initiatives already developed such as the 2010 report of the Law Reform Commission on Consolidation and Reform of the Courts as well as the legal costs provisions of the Legal Services Regulatory Act 2015 among others.