Sunday 20 October 2019

Chief Justice is confident Irish courts can meet the challenge of Brexit “head on”

A flight of legal business from London expected

Mr Justice Frank Clarke Photo: Colin O’Riordan
Mr Justice Frank Clarke Photo: Colin O’Riordan
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The Chief Justice has said he is confident Irish courts can meet the challenge of Brexit “head on”.

Mr Justice Frank Clarke’s comments, in the Supreme Court’s annual report, come amid expectations more international disputes will be dealt with here in future.

A flight of legal business from London is expected as it will become more difficult to enforce UK court judgments in the EU post-Brexit.

Lawyers also believe Brexit could keep the courts busy by throwing up previously unimagined legal quandaries in areas such as banking, insurance and property.

Mr Justice Clarke said the coming year would present “unique challenges and opportunities, not least those posed by Brexit”.

“But I remain confident that, with the continued support of our staff and the members of the court, together we can meet those challenges head on and capitalise on the opportunities,” he said.

The Supreme Court has already seen an increase in appeals in recent times, with Mr Justice Clarke describing last year in particular as “demanding and dynamic”.

According to the annual report, new appeals to the court rose by 10pc last year, on top of an 18pc increase in 2017.

The Chief Justice said the court had dealt with 157 applications for leave to appeal last year, disposed of 128 appeals and delivered 91 reserved judgments.

He said the court had dealt with a backlog of legacy cases and had assisted the Court of Appeal by disposing of 42 cases which had previously been sent to that court.

Waiting times for cases to be heard have also fallen significantly, down from five years in some cases to just one.

The report also said a new eFiling system, which went live last month, now allows all applications for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court to be made through an online web portal.

The Supreme Court is sitting at NUI Galway this week, only the third time it has sat outside of Dublin and the first time it has sat outside a courtroom since the reconstruction of the Four Courts in 1932.

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