Courts Service highlights savings made in judges’ expenses since 2008

Top judges can claim higher expenses than judges in the lower courts

 Judge Jacqueline Linnane of the  CIrcuit Court: Last year she claimed  €250.46 in expenses. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Judge Jacqueline Linnane of the CIrcuit Court: Last year she claimed €250.46 in expenses. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

The Courts Service said judicial expenses had fallen by 30 per cent over the past six years, despite the number of judges rising from 131 in 2006 to 154 last year.

“Since 2008 the cost of subsistence has fallen by 40 per cent and the cost of travel by almost 12 per cent,” a spokesman said. “The overall costs have dropped by over 30 per cent, from the €2,492,764 required in 2008, down to the €1,740,730 last year.”

He said the savings also reflected a general 25 per cent reduction in travel and subsistence rates paid. “Reduced costs also reflect the ongoing general reorganisation of court venues in districts across the country, as it results in less travel within large court districts and a freeing up of court time to hear more cases.”

The spokesman added that the Courts Service had always sought value for money and reduced rates when it secured accommodation for senior judges working away from the Four Courts.

Judges are entitled to claim higher travel expenses than those applied to the Civil Service, while judges of the superior courts can claim higher travel expenses than their counterparts in the lower courts.

Depending on the journey, the difference in travel expenses to the same destination between judges of differing ranks is as much as 30 per cent. The difference between a superior court judge’s travel claim and that of a public servant is more than 40 per cent.

The Supreme Court accounts for the lowest proportion of judges’ expenses. This is because there are fewer judges – just seven claimed expenses last year – and they are usually based in the Four Courts in Dublin. Expenses totalling €12,542.01 were paid to the seven judges last year.

In contrast, the 63 District Court judges, who sit in scores of venues around the country, submitted claims totalling €1,045,929.26 last year.

High Court judges are usually based in the Four Courts but occasionally they sit outside Dublin for hearings such as personal injury or Central Criminal Court cases.

Last year, 33 High Court judges were paid €124,184.56 in expenses. Circuit Court judges sit in venues across the State, with some travelling longer distances than others. Also in 2103, 44 Circuit Court judges claimed €558,074.87 in travel, subsistence and judicial attire and incidental expenses.

They varied from €250.46, claimed by Dublin-based Judge Jacqueline Linnane, to €29,999.24 claimed by Judge Desmond Hogan, an unassigned judge who travels to cover courts.