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Question

426. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will provide, in tabular form, the current waiting period for a civil case to be heard before the High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23008/15]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy will be aware, the Courts Service is responsible for the management and administration of the Courts. The scheduling of court cases and the allocation of court business is a matter for the Presidents of the courts and the presiding judge who are under the Constitution independent in the exercise of their judicial functions. The Presidents monitor waiting times across all courts lists and seek to ensure the optimum use of court time. However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that the primary objective for the Service is to maintain the delivery of front line court sittings and services. The Courts Service continuously works to support the judiciary and assist in ensuring that cases are dealt with as effectively and as speedily as possible. Available resources and operational and organisational structures are kept under ongoing review to ensure that resources are targeted and focussed on keeping waiting times in the provision of services to a minimum. However, delays in the hearing of cases can occur for a number of reasons which can be outside the control of the courts and the Courts Service, such as the unavailability of a witness or where the parties or the legal practitioners may not be ready to proceed. The tables below sets out the waiting times for civil cases in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

High Court Waiting time
Asylum 4 months
Chancery Actions 4 months
Chancery Special Summonses 3 weeks
Commercial List 1 week to 4 months depending on duration
Family Law 4 months
Garda Comp 4 weeks
Hague Luxembourg Convention 6 weeks
Jury List 4 months
Judicial Review 4 months
Non Jury (including Circuit Court appeals) 6 months
Cork Personal Injury List 23 months
Dublin Personal Injury List 4 weeks
Dundalk Personal Injuries 5 months
Galway Personal Injuries 4 months
Kilkenny / Waterford Personal Injuries 9 months
Limerick Personal Injuries 7 months
Sligo Personal Injuries 5 months

Court of Appeal Waiting Times
New Appeals 8 – 9 months from date of lodgement on notice to appeal to hearing
Transferred Appeals 8 -9 months from application to Direction List

Supreme Court Waiting Times
New Appeals See below
Priority Legacy Appeals 12 months
Legacy Appeals 54 months


With regard to the Court of Appeal, I am informed that every new appeal appears in a Directions List usually within 4 weeks, for appeals categorised under the provisions of Order 86A Rule 7 of the Rules of the Superior Courts as expedited appeal and within 7 weeks for all other appeals. Two such Direction Lists are held each week, one for appeals categorised as expedited appeals and one for all other appeals and hearing dates are allocated for the first available date having regard to the time required for the hearing. I am informed that appeals requiring a priority hearing, for example Article 40 (habeas corpus), bail, extradition and Hague Convention cases will be accommodated at short notice and by scheduling additional sittings if necessary.
In relation to appeals transferred to the Court of Appeal from the Supreme Court, over 1,350 such cases exist and I am informed that they are managed by way of parallel listing system in the Directions List. The court has been proactive in listing over 150 transferred appeals for directions and allocating hearing dates and will in due course list further tranches of transferred cases. In the meantime any party to a transferred appeal may apply for directions by way of the procedures set out in a Practice Direction issued by the President of the Court of Appeal and any such application will be included in the weekly Directions List and a hearing date allocated usually within 8 to 9 months of the directions hearing.
The Supreme Court's list is in transition and it is managing a legacy appeal caseload together with applications under Article 64 of the Constitution (transferred appeals) and applications for leave to appeal under the new Constitutional jurisdictions. In relation to new appeals, leave to appeal has been granted in a small number of cases since the establishment of the Court of Appeal. It is proposed to deal with these cases as expeditiously as possible. In respect of priority legacy appeals and other legacy appeals, I am informed that the historic average waiting period has been 12 months and 54 months respectively but it is anticipated at this point that the legacy appeal caseload will have been disposed of by mid 2016 subject to the level of new business that is filed with the Court.