The introduction of the Government’s emergency measures on the 28th March 2020 have resulted in a cessation of day to day court business. The current arrangements put in place by the Court Services have been extended to the 5th May 2020 and it is not known how long these arrangements will stay in place.
Judges have remained available to hear urgent matters and urgent matters have been defined as the following:
- Habeas Corpus;
- Applications for bail;
- Injunctions and their enforcements;
- Wardship matters
- Urgent judicial reviews
All other Motions and cases which had been listed for hearing within this period are adjourned generally with liberty to re-enter. It remains possible however to obtain Consent Orders from the High Court in all Civil lists where the consent of all parties to the litigation has been confirmed to the Court by email. This means that outside of the urgent applications listed above, all Motions and cases normally listed are suspended indefinitely pending the ongoing health crisis. Unfortunately, this means that parties can expect significant delays in having their matter heard in the usual manner.
That said however new proceedings may still be initiated and documents can be issued and filed as Court offices remain open. Attendances at Court offices however will now be by prior appointment. In that and in circumstances where Court offices remain open, proceedings can continue to be issued and no Statute of Limitations issues arise.
In view of the above, the necessity for the Court Services to move towards technology has never been so apparent.
On the 20th April 2020, for the first time ever, the Irish Supreme Court sat with all parties present via video technology. Chief Justice Mr Justice Frank Clarke has indicated in a statement that a draft guidance on the conduct of remote hearings will be made available for practitioners and confirmed a commitment of the Court Services to move “to significant electronic lodgement and filing of documents”. The Court Services also confirm that the High Court would pilot remote hearings from the 27th April however the outcome of same is not yet available.
The Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court have postponed all hearings, conciliation meetings and mediations and hearings until after the 5th May 2020 and they are currently exploring options for remote hearings.
It appears that real change in the future conduct of Court business is commenced and this is a significant development for the Irish legal system.
05 May 2020