The Courts Bill 2013 was presented to Seanad Éireann on 14th March 2013. The Bill has two main objectives; to amend the in camera rule in order to introduce greater transparency in the administration of family and child care law by allowing access to the press (with certain restrictions) and to increase the monetary jurisdiction limits of the Circuit Court and District Court in personal injuries actions and other civil proceedings.
As initiated, Part 3 of the Bill proposes a change to the monetary limits on the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court and District Court in civil proceedings to €75,000.00 and €15,000.00 respectively. In personal injury actions the revised monetary jurisdiction limit of the Circuit Court will be €60,000.00.
The Bill proposes monetary increases in relation to various statutory provisions including the Hotel Proprietors Act 1963, the Wildlife Act 1976, the Waste Management Act 1996, the Animal Remedies Act 1993 and the European Communities (Placing on the Market of Pyrotechnic Articles) Regulations 2010.
The aim of the Bill is to reduce legal costs for parties involved in litigation. Fewer cases will be heard in the High Court but more cases will be heard in the Circuit and District Courts. The authorities will need to ensure that the lower courts will have proper resources to accommodate their increased workload. It is essential that cases are heard within a reasonable time because undue delays are detrimental to people seeking a resolution of their legal issues.
There is currently a backlog of cases waiting for a hearing before the appellate courts and it is hoped that the proposed Court of Civil Appeal will help alleviate the increasing burden on the Supreme Court.