The High Court established in 1924 took over the role and functions of the pre-existing High Court, as it existing when Ireland was part of the United Kingdom. The Supreme Court took over the role of the Irish Court of Appeal. The House of Lords jurisdiction continued to subsist (in the Privy Council) until the mid-1930s.
The High Court assumed all jurisdiction previously exercised by the High Court of Southern Ireland. The High Court exercising criminal jurisdiction is known as the Central Criminal Court. The jurisdiction may be exercised by any judge of a High Court nominated by the President of the High Court.
The High Court circuits are designated by the Courts of Justice Act. Twice a year as determined by the Chief Justice and President of the High Court, the High Court sits on Circuit in appeal towns to hear Circuit Court appeal.
High Court Commissioner’s may be appointed where there is insufficient number of High Court judges to hear appeals. The Commissioners must be barristers of at least 12 years standing.
All judges of the High Court are competent to hear cases, civil and criminal, equity and common law or under statute. The Court of Appeal is competent to hear all cases on appeal. The Supreme Court may grants leave to appeal, the Court of Appeal shall provide for the discontinuance of those proceedings, but only in respect of the grounds on which the Supreme Court granted leave to appeal.
Circuit Court appeals are by way of rehearing. Appeals from Circuit Courts in Dublin are to the – High Court sitting in Dublin. In other cases, the appeal is to the High Court on circuit.
The Circuit Court took over most of the jurisdiction of the former County Courts in Ireland. The District Court took over the jurisdiction of the Justices of the Pease and he Resident Magistrates and also assumed some of the civil jurisdiction of the County Court. The jurisdiction of the Circuit Court is to be exercised in accordance of the Rules of Court made by the Circuit Court Committee.
The President of the District Court has administrative functions in relation to discharge of court business. He may convene meetings of the justices of the District Court. The number of District Court judges is specified by law and may be changed from time to time.
District judges may be appointed to particular districts. Some judges are not permanently assigned and may be assigned to various districts. They may later be subject to permanent assignments. A Judge permanently assigned to one district may, with his consent, be transferred to another district.
A judge who is not permanently assigned may be assigned to a particular district by the President of the District Court. Where a judge cannot hear a particular matter due to an interest, the President may nominate another judge.
District judges appointed to Irish speaking areas must possess requisite knowledge of Irish to enable him hear cases in Irish. The jurisdiction of the courts, in terms of the types of case they may hear and the monetary value are set out in other sections.
A qualifying solicitor has a right of audience before the District Court. He must be qualified to practise.
A new office of Peace Commissioner was established upon the foundation of the State. The powers of justices of the peace, prior to the establishment of the State in relation to issuing summonses, warrants, taking oaths and certain other quasi-judicial functions, were assigned to Peace Commissioners. Some of the powers of the Peace Commissioners have been found unconstitutional and have been accordingly reduced and restricted over time.
The jurisdiction of the various courts is exercisable in accordance with Rules of Court made by the Rules Committee.
There are Rules of Court Committees each of the Courts. It consists of representatives of the legal professions, judges, court officers and other parties. The committees review and revise the rules of courts, as legislation and circumstances required. The rules relate generally to practice and procedure in the court concerned. Further rules deal generally with sessions, venues, times of sittings and as well as court fees and related matter.
The Superior Courts Rules Committee comprise the Chief Justice, the President of the High Court, Master of the High Court, two nominees of the junior and senior Bar and two nominees of the Law Society.The Attorney General is a member or may appoint other officers in his place.
The Circuit Court Rules Committee consists of judges of the Circuit Court, the County Registrars and certain other nominees. Two nominated members are practicing barristers, two practicing solicitors.
The District Court Rules Committee is similarly constituted with members of District Court judges, representatives of the legal professions and nominees of the Minister for Justice. Four of the nominated members are justices nominated by the Minister for Justice.
The President of the relevant court (Court of Appeal High, Circuit or District) has general functions in relation to organisation of the business of the court. The Chief Justice has the equivalent functions in relation to the organisation of the Supreme Court.
The Department of Justice provides for court houses and accommodation. It provides accommodation including lodgings and meals for judges on circuit.
The High Court, Circuit Court and District Court circuits are specified by law. The Government may alter circuits and districts from time to time. This is done by statutory instruments.
The sittings for various types of business are specified from time. The Minister has power to vary and abolish a District Court districts and district court area.
The Dublin Metropolitan District covers the Dublin City and contiguous suburbs. For many purposes, it is treated as a single District Court area.
The Courts of Justice Acts determine the jurisdiction of the District, Circuit and High Court in various classes of matters over which they jurisdiction. The Courts of Justice Act have progressively extended the jurisdiction of various courts.
The Government may by order vary the Circuit Court’s and District Court’s monetary jurisdiction limit. They have raised the monetary limits applicable to the Circuit Court and District Court periodically.
The 2002 Courts and Court Officers Act extended the jurisdiction of the High Court, Circuit Court and District Court in a range of matters to €100,000 and €20,000 in place of the prior cap. However the relevant provisions were never commenced and were ultimately superseded.
Cases may be transferred or remitted between courts. Where a case is more appropriate to another court, an application may be made to before which the matter is pending, for an order to transfer the matter upwards or downwards, as the case may be. Either party may apply and procedures are set out in the court rules.
The Court Service has established a Register of Reserve Judgment. If a judgment is not delivered within two months from the date it is reserved, the President of the Court concerned may request that the matter be listed before the judge who reserved judgment. Notice shall be given to the parties.
The judge is to specify the date on which he proposes to deliver judgment. The date specified is to be entered in the register. The register is to be kept open for inspection on payment of prescribed fee.