Thursday 17 October 2019

Courts can capitalise on challenges of UK exit - Chief Justice

Chief Justice Frank Clarke. Picture: Collins
Chief Justice Frank Clarke. Picture: Collins
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 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.

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

In the Supreme Court's annual report, published yesterday, 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.

He elaborated on the challenges faced in an address to the Galway Solicitor's Bar Association last night.

Mr Justice Clarke said one particular challenge will be ensuring laws emanating from Europe cater for the common law system used in Ireland.

Up to now the UK has been very active in doing this, but Irish judges will have to take a leading role and devote more time to various international networks.

After Brexit, Ireland will be the only full common law country in the EU.

The Supreme Court has already seen an increase in its workload 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 helped the Court of Appeal by disposing of 42 cases which had previously been sent to that court.

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.

Irish Independent

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