New court to begin work next autumn

10 judges to be appointed to appeals court which will cost €3 million annually

Minister for Justice  Alan Shatter speaking at the Central Count Centre at Dublin Castle. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter speaking at the Central Count Centre at Dublin Castle. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 



A court of appeal will be established next year after the proposal was approved by a clear majority.

Some 65 per cent voted Yes in the referendum to create a new institution between the High Court and the Supreme Court, with 35 per cent against. All the main parties supported the proposal, which the Government says is necessary to clear a four-year backlog at the Supreme Court.

Civil and Criminal Appeals

It is expected that 10 new judges will be appointed to the court, which will hear both civil and criminal appeals and leave the Supreme Court free to focus on cases of public or constitutional significance.

All 43 constituencies voted in favour of the new court. The strongest Yes came in Dublin South-East, where 76.6 per cent of voters endorsed the idea, while support was weakest in Donegal North-East, at 56 per cent. Other strong Yes votes came from Dún Laoghaire and Dublin South, the constituency of Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, where the margin was up to three-to-one in favour.

Elsewhere, the Yes vote was relatively consistent. In Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s constituency of Mayo, 67 per cent of voters were in favour. The Yes vote was 65 per cent in Clare, 63 per cent in Laois-Offaly, 66 per cent in Galway West, 63 per cent in Cork North-Central and 61 per cent in Limerick.

Turnout in the courts referendum was 39.1 per cent. There were 20,080 spoiled votes, significantly more than in the Seanad referendum, where the figure was 14,355.

Legislation

Mr Shatter said he would bring the legislation required for the establishment of the new court to the Dáil in the coming months, allowing it to take up its duties in autumn next year.

The court, which will cost up to €3 million annually, will hear appeals from the High Court except when the Supreme Court believes a case is of such public importance that it should go directly to the highest court in the State. The Supreme Court will also take appeals directly from the High Court where it deems “the interests of justice” require it.

In certain circumstances, a decision of the court of appeal may be considered again by the Supreme Court.

The salary and other conditions for judges in the new court have not yet been announced, but pay is expected to be set between that of a High Court judge (€172,710) and a member of the Supreme Court (€182,895).