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Panel chosen for October appeals court referendum

The vote will ask the public to decide on the existence of an Appeals Court between the High Court and the Supreme Court.

The Four Courts which houses the High Court and the Supreme Court and civil cases.
The Four Courts which houses the High Court and the Supreme Court and civil cases.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE REFERENDUM TO decide on the establishment of an appeals court will be held in early October with High Court Judge Elizabeth Dunne today appointed as the chairperson of  Referendum Commission.

The vote will see the public decide on whether it wants to add an Appeals Court between the High Court and the Supreme Court.

The appointment of Judge Dunne represents the beginning of Referendum Commission’s efforts to promote awareness of the referendum and encourage the electorate to vote. The other members of the commission include the Comptroller and Auditor General Seamus McCarthy, the Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly as well as the clerks of both houses of the Oireachtas.

The same panel will oversee the vote to abolished the Seanad.

The aim of the new court would be to reduce the backlog of non-priority cases in the Supreme Court which currently see average waiting times of four years.

Earlier this year, Chief Justice Susan Denham announced her decision not to accept any new priority cases, given that there were already over 70 cases on the priority list.

Under the proposals in the October ballot, the Supreme Court will hear appeals from the Court of Appeal where the issue involved concerns a matter of general public importance or where it is in the interests of justice that the appeal be heard by the Supreme Court. This should result in the number of cases heard by the Supreme Court falling substantially.

Read: Referendum to be held on creating new Court of Appeal >

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

Read: Hogan appoints five-member panel to oversee Seanad referendum >

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Rónán Duffy

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