The Court Services were established by the Court Services Act 1998. It is an independent agency with its own corporate identity. The functions of the Service are to manage the courts, provide support services to judges, provide information on the court system to the public, provide, manage and maintain court dealings and provide facilities for users of the court.
The functions conferred on the Service and the Board are not to be exercised so as to interfere with the independence of the courts in the performance of their judicial functions.
The Court Services is to prepare a strategic plan every three years and submit it to the Minister for approval. The strategic plan is to set out the key objectives and strategies of the Service. This is to have regard to the need to ensure the most beneficial effect and efficient use of its resources. It is to have regard to the Government’s policy on the Irish language.
The Service is to report annually to the Minister for Justice on its activities. It must furnish the Minister with information in relation to any matter concerning the policies and activities of the service generally. Any specific matter or account prepared by it and any report.
The Board is to consist of
- the Chief Justice and the Presidents of each of the other courts;
- further judges, each elected by the judges of the respective District, Circuit, High Court and Court of Appeal,
- nominee of the Chairman of the Bar Council of Ireland.
- Nominee of the President of the Law Society of Ireland.
- elected by the staff of the Service.
- an Officer of the Minister nominated by the Minister.
- Nominee of the Minister to represent the consumers of the services provided by the courts.
- Nominee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
- Nominee of the Minister with relevant knowledge and experience in commerce, finance or administration.
The Chief Justice is the Chairperson of the Board.
The functions of the Board are to consider and determine policy in relation to the Service and to oversee the implementation of the policy by the chief executive. The Board is to have regard to the resources of the Service and the policies and objectives of the Government and the Ministers of the Government insofar as it is relevant to the functions of the Service.
There is a Chief Executive of the Court Service who is in overall management and control. His function is to manage and control the staff and administration of the business of the Service. He is to perform such functions as the Board determines and such as are conferred by law from time to time.
The Chief Executive is accountable to the Oireachtas Committee in relation to the general administration of the Service. He is not accountable to the Committee in relation to the exercise by a judge of judicial functions or by any person other than a judge of limited jurisdiction of a judicial nature.