265. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the estimated cost of establishing a dedicated a family court system; and the estimated full year running cost thereafter. [7047/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): My Department is currently working on the General Scheme of a Family Court Bill which will aim to streamline family law court processes, clarify jurisdictional issues and provide for a set of guiding principles to help ensure that the Family Court will operate in a user-friendly and efficient manner. The intention is to establish a dedicated Family Court within the existing court structures. As the Deputy will appreciate, it is essential that there is proper planning and consultation with relevant stakeholders in order to ensure that the development of a new family court structure can be implemented smoothly and efficiently.
My Department has established a working group, comprising officials from my Department, the Courts Service and the Legal Aid Board, to examine the operational aspects relating to the Family Court. The intention is that the working group will develop an overall architecture for the new family court structure. The working group is consulting with other relevant stakeholders. Key issues arising in consultations include family court venues and facilities, resources and capital investment in family courts and integration of relevant family and child services to provide the best possible family law outcomes. In this context, in so far as additional resources and capital investment are required this will be fully scoped out in the context of the necessary regulatory impact assessment that is needed to support the legislative reforms.
I hope to secure Government approval in the coming months for the General Scheme of a Family Court Bill and in that context to have a regulatory impact assessment incorporating an estimate of the necessary investment settled. Once the General Scheme has been approved by Government, it will be referred to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel for drafting and to the relevant Oireachtas Committee for pre-legislative scrutiny.