Written Answers. - High Court Facilities.


asked the Minister for Justice if he is aware of the chaotic state of High Court facilities and the inadequacy of them in Cork City; if he will make a comprehensive report to Dáil Éireann on the steps he has taken or intends to take to rectify the situation.

Limerick East): I am aware that there are serious delays in the High Court in Dublin and at a number of the provincial venues where it sits to hear jury actions, notably in Cork. This position has built up over the past number of years because of the increasing number of cases being entered in the High Court. However, as a result of the changes in courts' jurisdiction brought about by the Courts Act, 1981, the volume of new business being taken in the High Court has fallen substantially and I am optimistic, therefore, of an early improvement in the arrears situation in the High Court as a whole.

As to the particular problem in Cork the position is that it is the function of the President of the High Court to arrange the distribution and allocation of the business of the High Court and it can be taken that in doing so he takes into account the needs of particular areas. He has increased the number of High Court sitting days in Cork in the current legal year by 50 per cent and he has now arranged, I understand, to hold High Court sitting in Waterford in June next at which Waterford plaintiffs who have long-standing cases on the Cork list will be offered a hearing. If it is found possible to continue holding sittings in Waterford this will ease considerably the arrears situation in Cork.

I might mention that one of the problems associated with the High Court sittings in Cork has been the slow disposal rate of cases, which has been attributed to unwillingness on the part of Cork practitioners, as compared with those in other areas, to settle cases. This is borne out by a comparison of disposal rates in the different High Courts venues since Michaelmas 1982. The average number of cases disposed of per week has been 43 in Cork as compared with 69 in Limerick and 83 in Dundalk. However, I am glad to say that the disposal rate during the sittings just completed in Cork was 82 per week. The High Court is due to sit in Cork again in May for two weeks and in July for two weeks and if this disposal rate is maintained the arrears position can be expected to show significant improvement.