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Alan Shatter and The Supremes: New judges to deal with courts backlog

The government has approved the appointment of two extra judges to the Supreme Court to deal with the current backlogs, some as long as four years.

Alan Shatter (File photo)
Alan Shatter (File photo)
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

JUSTICE MINISTER ALAN Shatter is to appoint two additional judges to the Supreme Court following Cabinet approval of measures to deal with the significant backlog of cases in the highest court in the State.

The average delay for non-priority cases before the current seven-member Supreme Court is now around four years with some 70 cases on the fast-track priority list currently awaiting a hearing with delays also in the Court of Criminal Appeal.

This led to current Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Denham announcing earlier this year that the court would not accept any new priority cases given the backlog, saying in March that the situation “is unsustainable, it is untenable, it cannot be defended”.

Subsequent meetings between the Chief Justice, Shatter and Attorney General Marie Whelan have led to the proposals for the appointment of two new judges to allow for an increased number of Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeal sittings later in the year.

The two new judges – which will increase the overall number of Supreme Court judges to nine – will each earn a salary of €197,272.

“The waiting periods in the Supreme Court list are negating the efficient throughput achieved in the High Court, particularly in the Commercial Court list,” Shatter said today.

Today’s announcement comes in addition to the government’s approval last week of a referendum on a Constitutional amendment which would allow for the establishment of a Court of Appeal. The plebiscite is due to be held in the autumn.

The Department of Justice said that the provision for the appointment of an additional two judges to the Supreme Court would be contained in the Courts Bill which is currently at committee stage in the Oireachtas and is expected to pass into law before the summer recess.

Read: A new Vice President, and other things that happen if the Seanad is scrapped

Read: Levels of activity in courts ‘overwhelming’ and ‘unsustainable’ – Chief Justice

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Hugh O'Connell

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