Proposal for a court of appeal

AuthorSusan Denham
PositionJudge of the Supreme Court
2006] Proposal for a Court of Appeal 1
The Celtic Tiger is roaring through the courts. The workload
of the High Court has grown extensively in recent decades. In
1961 there was a President and seven ordinary judges. From the
1970’s the volume of cases increased with Ireland’s economic
and social development. This volume has grown exceptionally in
the last 10 years, both in the civil and criminal jurisdictions. The
High Court now consists of the President and 33 ordinary judges.
Yet it appears that this number is not yet sufficient to efficiently
process the number of cases presenting.
The lists of the High Court have grown, both in case
numbers and in categories. I keep on my desk two old Legal
Diaries, one from Thursday the 18th of July, 1957, and one from
Wednesday the 14th of January, 1959.
It is interesting to note the volume of work in those bygone
days. On the 18th of July 1957 the President of the High Court sat
to hear Wards of Court cases. Nothing else is listed between that
Thursday and the following Monday. On Monday the 22nd of July
there are 3 non-jury matters, Mr. Justice O’Dálaigh has a jury
action, Mr. Justice McLoughlin has a case in Court 2, Mr. Justice
Teevan has a jury trial at hearing.
Move on to Wednesday the 14th of January, 1959. There are
five Circuit Court appeals listed before Mr. Justice McLoughlin;
the President, Mr. Justice Haugh and Mr. Justice Murnaghan (a
Divisional Court) were listed to hear two cases stated. It was
another country!
Today it is radically different. This may be illustrated
simply by the list of the lists in the High Court. See our current
Legal Diary where the High Court has the following lists:
Personal Injuries (Dublin), Personal Injuries (Provincial), Bail,
* Judge of the Supreme Court. This article is based on the text of an address
delivered at the Annual Conference of the Supreme and High Courts, organised
under the auspices of the Judicial Studies Institute, on May 19 2006.

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