Written Answers. - Court Cases.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

370 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of cases awaiting process in the courts; if there is any undue delay in processing these cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15501/99]

Statistics on the number of cases awaiting hearing in the courts are not available.

The majority of cases currently coming before the various courts can proceed to hearing within a reasonably short time. However, there are some delays in a small number of areas which are indicated in the table below.

Court

Venue

Type of Case

Length of Delay

Circuit Court

Dublin

Video Link Trials

12 Months

Cork

Civil Cases

6 – 12 Months

Cork

Criminal Cases

6 Months

Cork

Family Law Cases

3 – 6 Months

Longford

Civil Cases

12 Months

Limerick

Civil Cases

8 Months

Limerick

Family Law Cases

3 – 6 Months

Dundalk

Civil Cases

6 Months

Central Criminal Court

Dublin

Murder Trials

14 Months

Dublin

Rape Trials

11 Months

Regarding delays in video link trials, a second set of video link equipment was installed in the Four Courts in Dublin in November 1998 to cater for the increase in the volume of cases requiring these facilities, It is expected that the operation of this second system will reduce the waiting time for hearing video link trials in the Circuit Court and also those rape cases in the Central Criminal Court which require the use of video link. Also, consideration is being given to the installation of video link facilities at venues outside of Dublin to reduce the number of video link trials being transferred to Dublin.
Under the Courts and Court Officers Act, 1995 a third permanent judge was assigned to the Circuit Court in Cork. That Act also provided for the appointment of seven additional Circuit Court judges who were appointed in 1996. Since then the President of the Circuit Court has been temporarily assigning judges to all venues to try to reduce arrears and eliminate unreasonable delays. These measures have resulted in the elimination of delays in all but four venues i.e. Cork, Longford, Limerick and Dundalk.
In 1995 there was a 40 per cent increase over 1994 in the volume of cases coming before the Central Criminal Court. Prior to the enactment of the Courts and Court Officers Act, 1995 there were two judges hearing cases in the Central Criminal Court. This Act provided for the appointment of three additional High Court judges who were appointed in 1996. This enabled the President of the High Court to make a third judge available to hear cases in the Central Criminal Court. Following a further increase of 23 per cent in the volume of cases coming before this Court in 1997 over 1995 a further additional High Court judge was appointed in December 1998 which has enabled the President of the High Court to make a fourth judge available to hear cases in the Central Criminal Court. It is expected that these measures will help to reduce the delay periods in that court.