The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D., has signed new court rules into law to provide for the extension of case progression by County Registrars to civil proceedings in the Circuit Court.

The purpose of case progression is to ensure that cases are prepared for trial in a manner which is likely to minimise the cost of the proceedings to the parties and that the time and other resources of the courts are optimally employed.  

The mechanism means that the County Registrar is required to establish what steps remain to be taken to prepare the case for trial and fix a timetable for the completion of its preparation for trial or adopt any timetable proposed by the parties if satisfied that it is reasonable, could give or make a range of pre-trial directions (e.g. the vouching of items in an affidavit of means, the identification of the issues in dispute between the parties) and orders at the hearing, and is empowered to award or disallow costs of the case progression hearing. Under the courts legislation County Registrars can make a range of pre-trial orders, including discovery, and may, provided the parties are legally capacitated, make orders ruling settlements.  

Announcing the move, the Minister said: "Similar rules introduced last year in the area of family law are working well. The volume of such pre-trial work is considerable and this mechanism will free up the time of Circuit Court judges to concentrate on conducting trials."

The case progression mechanism is based on the successful method used extensively in the Commercial Court whereby a judge can order the parties to engage in Alternative Dispute Resolution, thus shortening proceedings and costs associated with them.  

The Rules will come into operation on 1 January 2010.

30 December 2009