The Court Officers Act, 1926, modernized and re-established certain of the existing offices and reformed the courts service. Court’s officers and agents are appointed by the State and are in effect public servants.
The Master of the High Court, Taxing-Masters and other senior officers such as Registrars are appointed by the Government and hold office at their pleasure.
However, no principal officer or other officer nominated to be a Registrar of the High Court, is to be removed without the consent of the Chief Justice and President of the High Court. The Master of the High Court and Taxing-Masters retire at the age of 70.
The Probate Office is established under the management of the Probate Officer and took over the prior functions of that role.
The legislation established the Bankruptcy Office. There is a special Registrar in Bankruptcy. The official assignee is an officer in whom vests the assets of a person on being adjudicated bankrupt. The examiner has quasi-judicial role in bankruptcy and other certain matters including the enforcement of the court judgments.
An Accountant’s Office is established to hold and account for court funds.
The legislation establishes funds of suitors account. The investments of dormant accounts of funds of suitors may be realised and disposed of, subject to following certain rigorous procedures.
The sums may be used towards defraying the cost of providing, managing, and maintaining court buildings. Where funds are paid out following the procedures, and they are ultimately reclaimed by the person entitled to them, the Minister for Finance indemnifies the financial institutions.
The accountant establishes a register of funds of suitors in the High Court. This includes details of the proceedings concerned, names of parties, ledger account number, date of payment into the dormant account, account number of special accounts.
The Examiner is to be a barrister or solicitor, of 12-year standing. He is appointed by the Minister for Justice, after consultation with the President of the High Court. The same criteria applies to a Taxing Officer. Where there is a vacancy or the holder of an office in a court is absent or incapacitated, the Minister may require or authorised another officer to perform his functions during the relevant period.
The rules provide for appointments of Registrars of the Supreme Courts and High Courts.
The High Court is managed and administered through the Central Office, with the support of the Courts Services. Its deals with the administrative side of side courts including the issue of summonses, the filing of motions and pleadings and drawing up and issuing of orders. They keep the records and files of cases.
The Circuit Court Office provides the same functions for the Circuit Court. The business of the Circuit Court Office is under the management of a County Registrar. There is provision for the appointment of Deputy County Registrars.
County Registrars are appointed by the Government and hold office at their pleasure. A County Registrar must be a solicitor or barrister of at least 8-years standing. A range of quasi-judicial functions have been conferred on County Registrars as set out in other chapters.
The 1995 legislation gave increased powers to the Master of the High Court and in particular to the County Registrar. These matters are set out in the sections on the Circuit Court.
The District Court Office performs similar functions in respect of the District Court.
The organisation of court’s business is formally under the control of the judge of the relevant court. The relevant court office acts under the general direction of the judge and subject to his specific directions.
The Registrars sit with their judges generally in front of them. They administer oaths, assist the judge, keep notes of the key matters on proceedings and draw up and perfect orders. They are the point of liaison between the judge and the court offices. They liaise with the party’s legal advisors where necessary, such as in relation to the issue of court orders on foot of the judges’ decision.
There is High Court Registrar who sits with each High Court judge. A Supreme Court Registrar sits with the Supreme Court. A Court of Appeal Registrar sits with the Court of Appeal. The County Registrar or deputy is the registrar at Circuit Court level. The District Court Clerk is the District Court Registrar.
Registrars keep the files of cases pending before the court. They write up minute books, keep records, formalise the orders. They take up the file from the relevant court offices, so that they are in court and are updated during proceedings and steps in proceedings such as motions.
There are a number of District Court Offices throughout the country.
The organisation of Districts and Circuits are prescribed by statutory instrument by the Minister for Justice.
The High Court Registrars, County Registrar and District Court Clerk have the functions that their predecessors (under the UK) had and those prescribed by Rules of Court.
Sheriffs and Under Sheriffs are appointed in Counties and County Boroughs. In practice, the offices have been vacant outside of Dublin and Cork City. The County Registrar’s undertake the functions of Sheriffs throughout most of the country. The County Registrar’s Office undertake and organises the execution of judgment.
The Government may appoint Sheriffs and Under-Sheriffs. It may specify their duties. may transfer its functions from the County Registrar to the Sheriff. The Minister for Justice may, on the office of a Sheriff becoming vacant, provide that the powers are to be vested in the County Registrar.
A person may not be appointed Sheriff unless he is a barrister or solicitor of five year standing or has acted as a managing clerk or principal assistant to a Sheriff or Under-Sheriff for five years. The office is non-pensionable and is held at the will and pleasure of the Government. The retirement age is 70.