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Court of Appeal (Ireland)

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The Court of Appeal (Irish: An Chúirt Achomhairc) is a court in Ireland that sits between the High Court and Supreme Court and took over the existing appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in 2014. It replaces the Court of Criminal Appeal and the Courts-Martial Appeal Court (subject to transitional provisions). Appeals to the Supreme Court are at that Court's discretion.

Contents

Establishment

The superior courts provided under the Courts of Justice Act 1924 and the 1937 constitution were the High Court and the Supreme Court. By the 1990s, there was a large backlog of cases in which the Supreme Court was required to hear appeals from the High Court. The Supreme Court heard a greater number of cases than its counterparts in other common law states. A working group which reported in 2009 recommended introducing a new court to hear most appeals of High Court judgments, freeing up the Supreme Court to restrict itself to cases of constitutional importance. This would require amending the constitution to remove the general right to appeal to the Supreme Court and allow that court the discretion to decide which cases to hear itself.

A constitutional amendment along the lines of the 2009 report was approved in a referendum on 4 October 2013. The Court of Appeal Act 2014 gave effect in primary legislation to the new constitutional provision. The Rules of the Superior Courts and schedule of court fees were then amended by statutory instrument. The court came into operation on 28 October 2014.,

In February 2014, the government announced that serving High Court judge Seán Ryan would be designated as the president of the new court. On 29 October 2014, the Government nominated Ryan and eight ordinary judges of the Court of Appeal, who were appointed by the President of Ireland on the same day. A ninth ordinary judge, John A. Edwards, was nominated on 11 November 2014, and appointed on 4 December 2014. Nine of the appointees to the new Court were judges of the High Court; one was promoted directly from the Circuit Court.

Cases

On 28 October 2014, the Supreme Court transferred 258 cases to the Court of Appeal.

On 10 March 2015, the Court of Appeal upheld a May 2014 High Court ruling that section 2(2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 was unconstitutional, thus annulling statutory instruments made under section 2(2) which criminalised various designer drugs. Although the government may seek to appeal this to the Supreme Court, it had also made contingency plans for emergency legislation after the High Court ruling, and an Act was rushed through the Oireachtas on 10–11 March 2015. International media reported on the one-day decriminalisation of MDMA and methamphetamine.

In September 2016, a paper in The Irish Law Times claimed "the Court of Appeal never had a prayer of solving the problem that was put to the people in this referendum, which was solving the backlog", with 1,814 cases pending at the end of 2015 compared to 2,001 cases at the start. A spokesperson for the court said it would process cases faster when it "finds its rhythm".

Composition

The Court of Appeal consists of its president, and not more than nine ordinary members. There are two ex officio members: the Chief Justice, who normally sits in the Supreme Court, and the President of the High Court who normally sits in the High Court.

References

Court of Appeal (Ireland) Wikipedia


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