Written Answers. - Small Claims Court.

Noel Ahern

Question:

134 Mr. N. Ahern asked the Minister for Justice if she will give details of the operations and statistics of cases dealt with by the Small Claims Court; the number of cases which are being dealt with; the number of cases resolved or contested before court decision; the number and analysis of court decisions; the number paid or settled thereafter; the average timespan involved; her views on a case (details supplied) where a claimant is dissatisfied with the slow progress being made; the measures, if any, which can be taken to make payment to him for a claim commenced in July 1996; and when the process will be finalised. [9376/97]

The latest period for which statistics for the small claims procedure are available are for the 12-month period up to 7 December 1995. During that period, 2,470 new applications were received and 495 cases were brought forward from the previous period. The statistics indicate that 1,420 cases were settled by the small claims registrar, 245 cases were withdrawn, decrees of default were issued in 233 cases and 596 cases were brought before the court. Of the cases brought before the court, 93 were dismissed, 96 were struck out and small claims decrees issued in 303. The remaining cases were adjourned. At the end of the period there were 458 cases under the small claims procedure ongoing in District Court Offices.

Statistics are not available in relation to the number of awards paid on foot of court orders primarily because in many cases the small claims registrars are not informed of the settlements which take place between the parties following court procedures. With regard to the length of time taken to process cases under the small claims procedure I am satisfied that the procedure is generally providing an efficient service to customers. However, as the Deputy will appreciate the circumstances of each individual case dictates the length of time which the case requires.

Statistics for the period up to 31 December 1996 are currently being compiled in my Department and will be completed shortly. I will ensure that the Deputy receives a copy of these statistics as soon as they are available. A review of the statistics being maintained in relation to the small claims procedure is also under way.

With regard to the particular case mentioned by the Deputy, I have had inquiries made and I am satisfied that this case was properly dealt with by the small claims registrar. I understand that this case was heard in the District Court and a decree issued in favour of the claimant. This decree has now been lodged with the sheriff for execution.