Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she plans to appoint more High Court judges to clear the back-log of pending cases in High Court sittings in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6469/16]
296. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality to provide resources to facilitate sittings of the High Court in Tralee, to deal with the back log of cases in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6470/16]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I propose to take Questions Nos. 295 and 296 together.
The Rules of the Superior Courts (Order 36) provide that all proceedings in the High Court are tried in Dublin unless otherwise ordered or provided for by statute or by those Rules. The Rules also provide that notice of trial may be served for the hearing of certain types of actions (effectively actions for damages for personal injury) in Limerick where the plaintiff resides in, or the wrong is alleged to have happened in, Limerick or in counties Limerick, Tipperary, Kerry or Clare.
The Rules do not currently provide for High Court sittings in Tralee and any amendment to the Rules to include Tralee as a High Court venue would require the approval of the Superior Court Rules Committee and the concurrence of the Minister for Justice and Equality. There are no plans to hold High Court sittings in Tralee at present. However, if a plaintiff residing in Kerry does not wish to have proceedings heard in Dublin, or if the wrong is alleged to have happened in County Kerry, the Rules provide that notice of trial may be served to have the proceedings heard in either Limerick or Cork.
I am informed that the current waiting time for personal injury hearings in the Dublin personal injury list is 4 weeks. The waiting time for cases set down for trial in Limerick is 9 months and in Cork is 17 months. In urgent cases which have been set down for trial in Limerick or Cork it is open to the parties to apply to the List Judge for an early hearing date, or to have the cases transferred to Dublin.
The allocation and distribution of court business is, of course, a matter for the Presidents of the respective courts. I have always been conscious of the need to provide sufficient judicial resources to effectively deal with the volume of business coming before the courts and last year I obtained Government approval for two additional judges of the High Court. The Courts Act 2015, which was enacted on 20 December 2015, provides for an increase in the statutory number of ordinary judges of the High Court by two, from 35 to 37. It is anticipated that these posts will be filled shortly and will facilitate a reduction in waiting times for cases to be heard throughout the courts system.