Courts reform must not slip down political agenda

Fine Gael Dublin Senator and solicitor, Catherine Noone, has today (Thursday) said that the reform of our courts system must not be allowed to slip down the political agenda. Senator Noone said the comments made by Chief Justice Susan Denham earlier this week about delays in the Supreme Court highlight the huge backlogs in our legal system.

“I know from my own professional experience the impact huge delays in court proceedings can have on members of the public. The challenge facing our courts system was brought into sharp focus earlier this week when the Chief Justice, Susan Denham, warned that the Supreme Court cannot accept any more emergency cases this term.

“Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter TD, has committed to reforming our court system, and I would urge him to drive this agenda forward within Government. The only way to address the delays being experienced in the Supreme Court and in our other courts, is to establish a new Civil Court of Appeal, which would deal with cases that don’t need to go to the Supreme Court.

“Our Supreme Court can’t filter cases, and as a result people can be waiting up to four years to have their cases heard. This is a completely unacceptable situation. In countries like the US or the UK, Supreme Courts hear fewer than 100 cases a year because they only deal with cases of exceptional constitutional importance.

“Justice delayed is justice denied. I know Minister Shatter is committed to bringing forward legislation to reform our courts, but considering any changes will require the passage of a referendum, I would urge him to ensure legislation is drafted as soon as possible.

“The proposals from Minister Shatter, which also include a new separate Family Court structure,
have the potential to achieve some of the most significant changes to our courts structures since 1924. The reform of our courts will benefit both the public and the taxpayer. I fully support the Minister’s intentions, and I hope can bring forward both legislation and a date for any necessary referendum as soon as possible.”

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