Dublin Circuit Court judge was wrong to refuse divorce application of couple who lived outside county, High Court rules

The court had jurisdiction to deal with the proceedings on account of the husband’s work in Dublin, the High Court found

A Dublin Circuit Court judge was wrong to refuse to hear a divorce application because the ex-partners did not live in the county, the High Court has ruled.

In a recently published judgment, Mr Justice John Jordan said the Circuit Court judge who struck out the proceedings did have jurisdiction to deal with the matter on account of the husband’s work in the capital.

The Family Law Divorce Act 1996 states that jurisdiction is conferred on a particular Circuit Family Court where the parties ordinarily reside or carry on “any business profession or occupation”.

In her appeal to the High Court, the wife contended that her husband works as a lawyer who carries out significant work in Dublin courts.


It would be a “significant injustice” to the plain meaning of the words in the 1996 Act, said Mr Justice Jordan, if he was to hold that the Circuit Family Court in Dublin does not have jurisdiction to entertain the proceedings.

The judge could understand concerns over potential mischief that might be caused if litigants were to “set about forum shopping and trying to find the most beneficial venue for proceedings” by using a very tangential connection with the chosen jurisdiction. However, he said: “That is not what we are dealing with here”.

The matter arose as a result of a “misconceived objection” by the husband’s legal team to jurisdiction in the Circuit Court and both parties incurred significant legal costs as a result, said the judge. The husband was ordered to pay 75 per cent of the wife’s legal costs of the appeal.

Mr Justice Jordan reversed the lower court’s decision, finding the Dublin Circuit does have jurisdiction to deal with the divorce proceedings.

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is an Irish Times reporter