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Courts to hold extra September sittings to work through backlog

The Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeal will join the High Court in holding extra sittings to clear a backlog.

Chief justice Susan Denham has arranged extra sittings of the Supreme Court during September, when the court is usually in recess.
Chief justice Susan Denham has arranged extra sittings of the Supreme Court during September, when the court is usually in recess.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

TWO MORE of the country’s highest courts have announced they will hold extra sittings in September to help clear a growing backlog of cases.

The Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeal will both sit during the month of September, a month when the courts are traditionally in recess.

Non-priority cases sent to the Supreme Court currently face a four-year wait to be heard, as a result of a growing load of appeals from lower courts, while cases sent to the Court of Criminal Appeal are unlikely to be heard for 15 months.

Despite the delays, the Supreme Court’s calendar does not foresee any sittings between July 31 and October 7, under a historical convention in which regular sittings are not held in the months of August and September.

Chief Justice Susan Denham said the extended sittings were “a pro-active measure by the judges of these courts to tackle the significant delays before an appeal can be heard.”

The growing caseload at the Supreme Court has also led to Government plans to appoint two extra judges to the Supreme Court, giving it a total of nine ordinary members in addition to the Chief Justice and President of the High Court.

There are also plans to hold a referendum to create an extra Court of Appeal which would take cases appealed from the High Court, leaving the Supreme Court only to deal with constitutional cases or matters of major public importance.

Chief Justice Denham said the extra courts and judges would “provide permanent and sensible relief of the current logjam.”

Justice minister Alan Shatter welcomed the extra sittings.

“This measure on the part of the judiciary will also alleviate the delays and help to ensure that citizens’ right of access to justice is upheld,” he said.

The High Court had previously indicated plans to sit through September to deal with its own growing backlog of cases.

Read: New judges to deal with courts backlog

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Gavan Reilly

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