Belfast Telegraph

Urgent need for more Court of Appeal judges - Chief Justice

More Court of Appeal judges need to be appointed in Ireland, the new Chief Justice has said.

Mr Justice Frank Clarke said the Court of Appeal's workload was an "acute problem" and that a priority for the justice system was to secure extra judges.

Discussing his priorities for the upcoming legal year in a speech at the Four Courts in Dublin on Tuesday, Mr Justice Clarke said he had been in talks with Sean Ryan, president of the Irish Court of Appeal, to find some short-term solutions to the problem.

He stressed however that the long-term solution required more judges.

Mr Justice Clarke warned that it was "abundantly clear" the workload of the individual judges of the Court of Appeal was "beyond what can reasonably be expected".

He added: "The criminal side of the work of the Court of Appeal is up to date. However, this achievement requires the allocation, typically, of four judges.

"The six remaining judges have to deal with an increased civil appeal burden ... it is not difficult to see why there is a problem," he said.

"I would like to emphasise here my complete commitment to supporting that case for extra judges for the Court of Appeal and also the commitment of my colleagues and I to assist in any exceptional, interim, short-term measures which may be required.

"Leaving aside altogether issues concerning the method of judicial appointment, there is an urgent need to address at least some aspects of the shortfall in numbers in the appellate courts as a matter of particular urgency," Mr Justice Clarke added.

He also indicated that more investment and better use of resources was needed in the justice system.

"In the overall context of resources I hope to continue to explore means whereby the case for resources for the courts, which are, after all, the third arm of government established by the constitution, can be put more directly to the final decision makers.

"We cannot expect to write our own cheque but we can seek the most effective way to have our case heard," he added.

The Chief Justice also warned of the consequences of Brexit for the Irish legal system in the context of Europe wide judicial bodies, consulted by the European Commission and legislators.

He said because of the difference between the legal systems used in continental Europe and those in the UK and Ireland, it was important to ensure the common law position was understood.

He said Ireland had in the past been able to rely on the "well-resourced" UK to take the lead in these situations.

After Brexit, he said, Ireland would become the biggest common law jurisdiction and there would be a much greater burden on the country to ensure measures proposed at a European level would fit well into the Irish legal system.

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