Solicitors urged to ask clients to vote Yes in Court of Appeal vote
Law Society gives referendum advice to its 9,000 members for the first time
The new Court of Appeal would be set up at a level between the High Court and the Supreme Court.
The Law Society has written to all 9,000 solicitors in the State urging them to vote Yes in the Court of Appeal referendum and suggesting they also encourage their clients to support the proposal.
It is the first time the representative group for solicitors has advised members of the profession to vote a certain way in a referendum.
In a letter to members, Law Society president James McCourt said the organisation’s council felt it would be “failing in its duty to seek constant improvement in the administration of justice in Ireland if it remained silent on this vitally important referendum”.
Four-year waiting list
Mr McCourt said the “chronic and deteriorating” delays at the Supreme Court, where the waiting list for hearings is running at more than four years, was an “affront to justice and utterly unacceptable”.
“This is by no means the only problem in the justice system – but it is a problem that can be resolved in large measure with a ‘yes’ vote from you and the majority of other voters on referendum day,” he added.
Mr McCourt said the society had not sought the second component of the courts referendum – the removal of the rule compelling the Supreme Court to issue only one judgment when deciding on the constitutionality of an Act – but that it was not opposed to the reform, “particularly in view of its linkage to the far more important Court of Appeal issue.”
“In the interests of the administration of justice in Ireland, therefore, the society is urging every solicitor to vote ‘yes’ in the referendum on a proposed Court of Appeal and, in addition, to recommend to as many others as possible that they do so as well,” he wrote.
‘Necessary and modernising’
“If you are comfortable in doing so and consider it appropriate you might write to other voters, including your clients, recommending that they support this necessary and modernising improvement to the justice system in this country.” The society provided a draft letter that might assist members to do this.
Opponents of the referendum proposal say a new court, which would cost up to €3 million a year, is not necessary and that the backlog at the Supreme Court could be cleared by reforming its work practices.
The referendum takes place on Friday, October 4th.