Written Answers. - Louth Circuit Court Waiting List.

Michael Bell

Question:

49 Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Justice the number of cases on the waiting list at the Circuit Court in County Louth for each of the last five years; the average waiting time to have cases disposed of over the same period; and her views on whether a situation has arisen since the withdrawal of the Circuit Court from Drogheda. [271/94]

The number of cases on hand at the end of each of the last five legal years at the Circuit Court in County Louth, was as follows:

Legal Year

Cases on hand at end of year

1989-90

44 cases

1990-91

70 cases

1991-92

126 cases

1992-93

331 cases

1993-94

386 cases

There was no undue delay in the disposal of criminal, civil or family law cases in the 1989-90 and 1990-91 legal years. During those two years, cases in all categories which were listed for hearing were disposed of at the sitting of the court following their listing. There was also no undue delay in the disposal of criminal cases in the 1991-92 and 1992-93 years. There was, however, a four months delay in the disposal of civil and family law cases in 1991-92 which grew to between eight months and nine months in 1992-93. In 1993-94, the delay in the disposal of criminal and family law cases was eight months while the delay in disposing of civil cases grew to 13 months.
Section 10 of the Courts of Justice Act, 1947, provides that the fixing of Circuit Court venues is a matter for the President of the Circuit Court. There were 35 scheduled sitting days of the Circuit Court in County Louth in the 1990-91 legal year — the year the Circuit Court last sat in Drogheda. The scheduled number of sitting days of the Circuit Court in County Louth increased to 40 and 38 in the 1991-92 and 1992-93 legal years, respectively.
I am informed that the withdrawal of the Circuit Court from Drogheda has not reduced efficiency in the disposal of Circuit Court business in County Louth as the assignment of all County Louth cases to Dundalk allows a roll over of cases not dealt with on a particular day into the following day and that such system of listing all County Louth Circuit Court cases in Dundalk is the most effective way of administering the list of cases.
I should add that there has been a significant increase in activity levels in County Louth as in all Circuit Court areas in the county as a consequence of the Judicial Separation and Family Law Reform Act, 1989, and the Courts Act, 1991. My Department has carried out a review of activity levels in the courts to assess the impact of the above Acts. The results of this review have formed the basis of proposals for additional resources to eliminate arrears in the Circuit Court.