The Court Structure in Ireland
The Structure of the District Court in Ireland
The District Court was established in 1961. The currently President is Judge Rosemary Horgan and 63 ordinary judges. There are 24 Districts in Ireland, including the Dublin Metropolitan District, each with its own court being presided over by a judge sitting alone (that is, one judge, no jury).
District Civil Court
In civil cases, its monetary jurisdiction is limited to €15,000, meaning that that is the maximum award a judge can make in respect of a civil case.
District Criminal Court
In criminal matters, its jurisdiction is limited to cases which a judge sits alone, (there is no jury) the maximum penalty is 12 months’ imprisonment for one offence or 24 months for two or more offences.
Small Claims Court
The small claims court deals mainly with minor matters. It provides consumers with an inexpensive and fast way to resolve disputes. This court is dealt with through the District Court offices.
The Circuit Court comprises of 37 ordinary judges and is presided over by Mr. Justice Raymond Groarke.
There are 8 Circuits in Ireland – Dublin, Cork, Eastern, South Eastern, Western, South Western, Northern, and Midlands. Dublin and Cork are the only permanent courts throughout the year.
Function & Jurisdiction of the Circuit Court
The Circuit Court hears civil and criminal cases in a variety of matters which also include de novo appeals from the District Court.
Structure of the Circuit Civil Court
The monetary jurisdiction in the Circuit Court is currently limited to where the claim does not exceed €75,000.00 and personal injury cases where the claim does not exceed €60,000,
Structure of the Circuit Criminal Court
The Circuit Court has a wide jurisdiction in respect of criminal matters. It deals with all indictable offences which are sent forward from the District Court, however there are some exceptions, including rape, murder, aggravated sexual assault, treason, and piracy. These cases must be heard in the Central Criminal Court.
The High Court of Ireland has full original jurisdiction the power “to determine all matters and questions whether of law or fact, civil or criminal”. It can decide the validity of any law, having regard to the provisions of the Constitution.
Structure of the High Court of Ireland
The High Court is presided over by the Honourable Mr. Justice Nicholas Kearns and 36 ordinary judges. In Civil cases one judge sitting alone usually presides over the proceedings, but in some cases of defamation, assault and battery, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution all require a jury.
Structure of the High Court (Central Criminal Court) of Ireland
Where criminal matters are concerned, the High Court is referred to as the Central Criminal Court, or the Criminal Court area of the High Court.
Courts of Appeal
Appeals from the lower civil and criminal courts.
The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court sits in the Four Courts in Dublin. It consists of the President or the Chief Justice, her Honour Ms. Justice Susan Denham and 7 ordinary judges.