· Setting up new Court of Appeal is a historic day for our courts system and gives effect to last year’s Referendum decision of the people
· Minister said that the new Court is “a wonderful opportunity to pioneer new approaches and enhance access to justice for all our citizens”
· Major reform in the structure of our Courts which delivers on a key Programme for Government commitment
Tuesday 28 October 2014
Frances Fitzgerald, TD, Minister for Justice and Equality today welcomed the establishment of a new Court of Appeal which creates a dedicated appeal court which will greatly enhance the administration of justice and improve waiting times in hearing appeals.
Welcoming the Court’s establishment, the Minister stated: “This new Court is a historic day for the courts system which I am confident will lead to greater efficiency in accessing justice for all our citizens”. The Minister noted that it was only a little over 12 months since the referendum to amend the Constitution to set up a Court of Appeal was passed by over 65% of voters. She continued “I am very honoured to be the Minister for Justice and Equality for this historic occasion. It was a privilege to have been able to steer the necessary legislation through the Oireachtas which ensured that the new Court could be established in a relatively short timeframe and to have overseen the subsequent legislative work relating to the establishment date for that Court and to the bringing into operation of the other provisions in the Court of Appeal Act which are necessary for the Court's smooth operation both now and into the future.
I would like to pay tribute to my predecessor as Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter, who did a great deal of valuable work in overseeing the Constitutional Referendum and the early preparations paving the way to where we are today. I wish to place on the record my appreciation to everybody involved in the project, including the important support of the Judiciary”.
The Minister noted that the Court of Appeal Act 2014, which passed through both Houses of the Oireachtas and was signed into law by the President Higgins in July ensures that the new Court is properly accommodated within the existing courts structure. It provides also that the Government shall by order appoint a day for the establishment of the Court which the Government agreed would be Tuesday 28 October 2014.
Following on from the establishment of the Court of Appeal, the Government will nominate ten judges to the new Court (a President and 9 ordinary judges) – nine of whom will be appointed on Wednesday 29 October with 1 further judge to be appointed within the coming weeks.
The Minister offered her congratulations in advance to the new judges who will be appointed by President Higgins tomorrow, adding “The new Court of Appeal judges will have a unique opportunity to pioneer new ways of conducting business and to ensure that future appeal cases will be dealt with in an expeditious and timely manner”.
The Court of Appeal Act makes provision for a range of matters associated with the new court such as jurisdiction; the number of judges which are to be appointed to it; and the organisational supports which will be put in place to ensure its smooth running.
The Minister continued: “It is anticipated that the establishment of the Court of Appeal will have a significant impact on the current waiting lists and will greatly improve the overall efficiency of the Irish court system”. The Minister added “Today is another very significant step forward for our courts system and I am very pleased to be part of this important development and I wish it every success in dealing with its extensive workload”.
Note for editors:
The Programme for Government indicated that the necessary steps to create a permanent Court of Appeal would be taken during the lifetime of the current Government. A referendum proposing the establishment of the Court of Appeal was agreed to by the people on 4 October 2013. Under the terms of the referendum proposal it was specified that a law providing for the establishment of the Court of Appeal should be enacted as soon as practicable after the enactment of Article 34A (which indicates that the Court of Appeal is to be established in accordance with its terms).
The Court of Appeal Act 2014 passed through both Houses of the Oireachtas on 17 July and was signed into law by the President on 24 July 2014. It is amends both existing courts legislation and other legislation across a range of other sectors in order to take account of the establishment of the Court of Appeal. It provides for the establishment of the Court, the appointment of judges, remuneration of judges, Rules of Court in relation to the Court of Appeal, the Office of Registrar of the Court of Appeal and other matters. It also provides for the necessary amendment of a variety of Acts.
Composition of the Court of Appeal
The Court is to be constituted of a President and up to nine ordinary judges. The Honourable Mr Justice Seán Ryan has been named as President Designate of the Court. In addition to the President, the following judges have been nominated for appointment to the Court, namely Mr Justice Peter Kelly, Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan, Mr Justice Michael Peart, Mr Justice George Birmingham, Ms Justice Mary Irvine, Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan, and Judge Alan Mahon. It is intended that the remaining position will be filled in the coming weeks.