State to have 104 courts with technology for remote hearings by end of year

Public consultation told more courtrooms needed in Dublin, particularly in Tallaght

The number of courts equipped with the technology needed to hold remote hearings is to  more than double during the course of this year, according to the Courts Service. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

The number of courts equipped with the technology needed to hold remote hearings is to more than double during the course of this year, according to the Courts Service. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

 

The number of courts equipped with the technology needed to hold remote hearings will more than double over the course of this year, according to the Courts Service.

Around 40 courts nationwide are equipped with the technology at present but the number is to increase to 104 before the end of the year. There will be a court with the necessary technology in each county.

The Courts Service was among a number of stakeholders who responded to a public consultation initiated by the Oireachtas Committee on Justice on the future of courthouses.

It was one of many bodies which believed that the remote hearings held due to Covid-19 pandemic restrictions would continue, and were likely to expand in the future.

The committee will hear from the main stakeholders in the court system at a hearing on Tuesday.

There was general agreement from court users that there was no shortage of courthouses outside of Dublin at present, but that there was a shortage of such facilities in the capital. The opening of the Hammond Lane family law courts should help address this problem, the service said.

Other stakeholders who responded included the Office of Public Works, the Bar Council and bodies representing victims and other court users.

In their responses to the committee, many of the stakeholders argued for more facilities in Dublin, with Tallaght identified as requiring an extra courtroom.

It was also said that the closure of the Central Criminal Courts and Circuit Courts during the months of August and September led to increased pressure on other courts.

Among the solutions put forward was staggered summer breaks, reducing opening hours during the summer months or using courts outside Dublin to hear cases normally held in the court buildings closed for the summer break.

The Bar Council, in its response, suggested an analysis should be done of courthouses to determine if they were located in the best location in their catchment area, with regard to population and access to the courts, including by public transport.