Ireland contributes annually to the European Commission EU Justice Scoreboard report which provides comparable data on the independence, quality, and efficiency of national justice systems, the essential parameters of an effective justice system. Ireland also contributes to the Council of Europe, European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) report which compares data on justice systems and court efficiencies from 47 countries. Both reports are available online at www.ec.europa.eu and www.coe.int respectively. These reports assist in providing ongoing international benchmarking which can be used as reference points when undertaking analysis of Ireland’s justice system.
The seventh edition of the scoreboard was published on 26 April 2019 and it refers mostly to data from the year 2017.
I want to highlight in particular that in relation to online availability of information about the judicial system for the general public, Ireland is one of five member states to meet all criteria assessed including access to information on the justice system and presentation of tailor-made information for specific groups of society which would otherwise have difficultly accessing this information.
Ireland has the fourth highest general government expenditure on the law courts and the report shows that expenditure has increased year on year.
With regard to the perceived independence of the courts and judges among the general public and among companies, Ireland, which has traditionally scored well in these important metrics, was in fifth highest place.
While recognising the value of gathering international data in relation to the independence, quality and efficiency of national justice systems, it is important to note the existence of anomalies that can arise when comparing such data. In some cases, data is collated in different ways in different countries, underpinning the differing geographical, economic and legal systems and as such, the data is not always directly comparable.