Region Western and Central Europe

National Report

Summary of Contents

1. General Information

1.1. Government

Ireland is a sovereign, independent, democratic state which operates a parliamentary democracy. There are three arms of the Irish government; the executive, legislature, and the judiciary.

The executive arm of the Irish government consists of the President (Uachtarán na hÉireann), Prime Minister (Taoiseach) and the deputy head of government (Tánaiste) and Cabinet ministers. The President is the head of state and is elected for a seven-year term with a maximum of two terms[1]. Political power is vested in the Taoiseach who is the head of government. The lower house of the parliament nominates the Taoiseach who is then appointed by the president. The executive is responsible for the daily operation of the country.

The judiciary consists of the District Court, Circuit Court, High Court, Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court. The function of the Supreme Court is to resolve issues pertaining to the interpretation of the constitution while the court of appeal resolves appeals. The other courts resolve matters that affect the citizenry including criminal and civil issues. The constitution, common law, and statutory law are used in the country when administering justice[2].

The legislature of Ireland is known as Oireachtas Éireann. It consists of the president and the two chambers of parliament; Dáil Éireann or Lower House and Seanad Éireann or Senate. The lower house of the parliament nominates the Taoiseach who is then appointed by the president. The function of the legislature is to introduce, amend or remove existing laws.

There are five types of elections in Ireland; local, European, parliamentary, presidential and referendums. The president, members of the Dáil Éireann, European Parliament, and the local government are democratically elected. The members of the Senate are elected, nominated or elected by university constituencies. The Constitution of Ireland can be amended by referendum. A proposal to amend the Constitution of Ireland must first be approved by both Houses of the Oireachtas, submitted to a referendum and signed into law by the President.

1.2. Demography

Ireland’s population was 4,761,865 persons in April 2016 an increase of 173,613 persons since the previous Census in April 2011[3]. The number of Irish residents born outside Ireland stood at 810,406 in 2016. In April 2016, persons born abroad accounted for 17.3 per cent of the population, up from 17 per cent in 2011. However, this increase is in sharp contrast to the previous inter-censal period which saw the number born outside Ireland rise by 154,141 over the period 2006 to 2011.

Chart 1. Persons usually resident by nationality for selected countries, 2011-2016[4]

Source: CSO (2017) Population change and historical perspective

In 2016, Roman Catholics accounted for 78.3 per cent of the population compared with 84.2 per cent in 2011. Historical census results show that Roman Catholics represented on average 89.5 per cent of the population in each of the four censuses held from 1881 to 1911[5]. It subsequently rose to a peak in 1961 of 94.9 per cent. Since then, its proportion of the total population has slowly declined as shown in Chart 2.

 Chart 2. Percentage distribution of religious populations, 1881-2016

Source: CSO (2017) Census of Population 2016 – Profile 8 Irish Travellers, Ethnicity and Religion.

1.3. Economy

Ireland’s economy is primarily a knowledge based economy focused on financial services, high-tech, pharmaceuticals, life sciences and agri-business. Ireland is ranked 6th on the Index of Economic Freedom[6] as an open economy with a significant reliance on high-value foreign direct investment. While Ireland experienced continuous growth from the mid 1990’s until 2007, the 2008 financial crisis led to a recession that severely affected the economy. Chart 3 shows the changes in Gross Domestic Product over the last decade in Ireland[7]. Ireland ranks as the second highest country in the OECD based on GDP per capita[8].

Chart 3. GDP at market prices (Million Euro)

Chart 4 shows the variance between GDP and Modified GNI[9] in Ireland reflecting the distorting effects of multinational companies operating in Ireland.

Chart 4. Comparison of GDP, Modified GNI and NNI at current prices 2010-2018[10]


Source: CSO (2019) National Income and Expenditure 2018

The 2019 Human Development Index value of 0.942 ranks Ireland as having the third highest quality of life in the world based on three categories: health, education and income. Life expectancy at birth in Ireland is 82.10 years. The expected years of schooling are 18.79 years and mean years of schooling is 12.53 years. Ireland’s purchasing power parity (PPP) is $55,660[11].


3.1. Criminal Procedure

The police (the Garda Síochána) are responsible for a criminal investigation. A person may be arrested by the police under warrant however the vast majority of arrests are without warrant. Any person (who need not necessarily be a police officer) may arrest any person who has committed, or is committing a breach of the peace or whom they reasonably believe is going to commit a breach of the peace.

An arrest may be carried out without warrant where statutorily provided for. In particular, Irish law provides for the concept of an “arrestable offence” which is an offence which can be punished by imprisonment for five years or more. Any person may arrest without warrant a person whom he or she with reasonable cause, suspects to be in the act of committing an arrestable offence. Where an arrestable offence has been committed any person can arrest without warrant anyone whom he or she with reasonable cause, suspects to be guilty of the offence. Where a member of the police with reasonable cause suspects that an arrestable offence has been committed he or she may arrest without warrant anyone whom with reasonable cause, he or she suspects to be guilty of the offence.

There are maximum periods applicable to persons brought to a police station but these differ based on the offence. However, for most arrestable offences, the normal maximum is six hours from time of arrest, a further six hours where directed by an officer not below the rank of Superintendent, and a further six hours where directed by an officer not below the rank of Chief Superintendent. The test for detention is that the officer concerned has reasonable grounds to believe that such detention is necessary for the proper investigation of the offence. However in terrorist, drug trafficking, and firearms offences, the maximum periods are longer – six hours from time arrest, a further eighteen hours where directed by an officer not below the rank of Superintendent, a further 24 hours where directed by an officer not below the rank of Chief Superintendent, a further 72 hours where authorised by a warrant obtained from a judge, which can be extended on a further warrant for a further 48 hours.  Where a person is brought before a court during this time, the period is extended for the duration of the court sitting.

There is no legal time limit for completing a police investigation, however for summary offences (that is, offences which will be heard before a District Judge sitting alone) the prosecution must commence within six months of the alleged offence. There is no statute of limitations for indictable offences, that is, those offences which may have a jury trial. Most indictable offences (with the exception of murder, rape, and treason) may be dealt with summarily and this is explained later.

Chart 10. Police investigation phase

Criminal proceedings can be generally instituted in three ways (only two of which are generally used). Where a person has been arrested the “charge sheet procedure” can be used (where the offences are set out on a charge sheet, with a copy furnished to the defendant and the original lodged with the court office). The second method, used where a person has not been arrested or was released without charge, is for a summons to be issued by the court office on the application of a police officer. The third form, which is used in the very rare instance of a private prosecution (i.e. prosecution taken by a private citizen and not by a public authority), is for an “information” to be laid before a District Judge containing details of the alleged offence. This very rare form of proceeding is the only way a victim can institute and be a party to criminal proceedings. However, for reasons which shall become apparent later, such prosecutions can only be practically undertaken for summary offences.

There is no requirement that a person be legally represented in any legal proceedings but legal aid is available pursuant to the provisions of the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962. It is open to any defendant to conduct their own defence in person (subject to certain restrictions which apply to cross-examination of certain witnesses in certain rape and sexual assault cases).

All criminal prosecutions begin in the local District Court (except in certain terrorist and organised crime cases which can be instituted in the Special Criminal Court). At the first appearance the police officer will give evidence of arrest, charge, and caution. An application for legal aid may be made at this point. While a summary offence may be tried there and then, this will normally not occur and there will normally be an adjournment or the defendant will be remanded in custody or, where the court decides, on bail (the latter normally subject to an appropriate sum of money being paid as a recognisance and, in some cases, the appointment of a “surety” or guarantor).

As noted above, offences in Ireland fall into three general categories – summary offences, indictable offences and “either way” offences that can be tried either summarily or on indictment (the latter also effectively has two subcategories, those which carry a right of election to a trial on indictment and those that do not). In the case of either-way offences the DPP will give “directions” as to the manner of trial. Where the DPP consents to summary disposal the District Judge must accept jurisdiction in order for a summary trial to proceed. Where the defendant has the right to elect for a trial on indictment they may do so – if they do not, or there is no right of election the matter will be tried summarily as long as the DPP has directed and the District Judge has accepted jurisdiction. Note that the defendant has no right in either  case to elect for a summary trial.  In the case of a child almost all offences (other than murder, manslaughter and treason) can be summarily tried in the District Court which sits as the Children’s Court for this purpose.

There is no longer any “preliminary examination” by a District Judge in the Irish system and where the DPP directs trial on indictment the court must send the case forward to the trial court (which depending on the offence will either be the local Circuit Criminal Court or the Central Criminal Court, which almost always sits exclusively in Dublin).  However sending forward will not occur until the prosecution has prepared and served a “Book of Evidence” which contains copies of all the evidence which the prosecution will rely on at the trial.

Certain terrorist and organised crime offences are tried on indictment by a non-jury court called the Special Criminal Court. This court sits with a bench of three usually consisting of a High Court judge, a Circuit Court Judge, and a District Court Judge. Of note is that such proceedings may be instituted in the Special Criminal Court rather than in the District Court as is usually the case.

3.1.1. Summary trial

For summary offences, the defendant will usually apply for a summary of the evidence and a copy of witness statements given to the police.  Once ready for trial the procedure is that the prosecutor (usually a police officer) will call their witnesses and these may be cross-examined by the defence. The defence may then make an application that there is “no case to answer” (if they feel the prosecution has failed to prove the facts of the offence) but if that application is refused the defence may go into evidence and defence witnesses may be cross-examined by the prosecutor. There will be a closing submission on behalf of the prosecution and by the defence. The judge may give a verdict (to convict or acquit) there and then or he/she may adjourn the case and give their verdict on a later date. Where the defendant is acquitted the proceedings are at an end. Where the defendant is convicted the matter will proceed to sentencing. The Court will hear evidence regarding any previous convictions and a “plea in mitigation” on behalf of the defendant. The District Court can impose a maximum sentence of twelve months imprisonment (though, if the offence is “either-way”, and the defendant pleads guilty, then the District Judge can send forward the matter to the Circuit Criminal Court for sentencing only). After sentencing there is the possibility of an appeal to the Circuit Court.

3.1.2. Trial on indictment

Following sending forward for trial the first stage is arraignment. The indictment will be read to the accused and he will be asked whether he pleads guilty or not guilty (there is also the rare possibility that the accused will plead autrefois i.e. that he has already been tried and/or convicted of the offence of which he is charged). There may be pre-trial applications made in relation to various matters one of which may be an application to the judge to dismiss one or more of the charges on the basis that there is insufficient evidence to place the accused on trial.

Prior to the beginning of the trial a jury will be selected and empanelled (it is open to the prosecution and defence to challenge seven potential jurors without cause and any number with cause). The accused will then be arraigned before the jury and asked to enter a plea.

The trial begins with the prosecution’s opening statement following which each prosecution witness will be called, examined in chief by prosecuting counsel, cross-examined by defence counsel (if the defence wishes to do so) and re-examined by prosecuting counsel (only if cross-examination has occurred and the prosecution wishes to do so). At the close of the prosecution case an application may be made by the defence of “no case to answer”; that is to say that the evidence which has been put forward by the prosecution is insufficient to convict the accused. If this is not made or it is unsuccessful the defence begins. The defence do not generally make an opening statement but it can be made in complex cases. The defence witnesses, if any, are then called (with the accused, if he intends to give evidence, being called first – there is no requirement that the accused give evidence in his own case) and are examined, cross-examined, and re-examined in similar fashion to the prosecution case.

Following the completion of the defence case the prosecution and the defence will make their closing statement. The judge will then charge the jury (which will involve summing up the evidence and direct the jury to the law relevant to the offence) and the jury will then retire to consider their verdict.

If the accused is acquitted, the proceedings are concluded. If they are convicted the accused will be remanded in custody or on bail for sentencing at a later date. There is the possibility of an appeal to the Court of Appeal by the defence. The prosecution may appeal the sentence (on the grounds that it is “unduly lenient”) but not the verdict.

There is no time limit for the completion of criminal proceedings.

Chart 11. Process map

3.2. Civil Procedure

In Ireland civil cases may be commenced in one of three first instance courts – generally speaking, the District Court deals with claims with a monetary value of less than €15,000, the Circuit Court with claims of a monetary value of between €15,000 – €75,000, and the High Court with all other claims. (Strictly according to the Constitution, any claim may be commenced in the High Court, but a successful plaintiff who does so when they could have instituted their claim in a lower court will be penalised by having their costs limited at the amount the lower court could have awarded. In practice, it is unknown for a plaintiff to take a claim in the High Court which could have been commenced in a lower court.

Ireland does not have a unified set of civil procedure rules and different rules are applicable in each of the three first instance courts. It should be noted, in particular, that the rules pertaining in the District Court (which were heavily revised in 2014) are very different to those pertaining in the other Courts, to the point where the terminology used is different to an extent. The remainder of this topic will describe the procedure in the High Court and Circuit Court primarily.

3.2.1. Pre-litigation and ADR

Prior to commencing litigation a Plaintiff (the person who takes the claim) is normally required to write a pre-litigation letter to the Defendant (the person against whom the claim is taken). This is not strictly required by the rules but a Plaintiff may be penalised in costs if they do not do so particularly if the matter settles in favour of the Plaintiff at an early stage.

There is no obligation on any party to engage in ADR at any time though solicitors are required to advise clients prior to instituting proceedings about the availability and benefits of mediation and to complete a statutory declaration that they have done so. A court may on the application of a party or of its own motion invite the parties to engage in mediation and adjourn the proceedings to allow them to do so. It is possible for a court to penalise a party in costs if they have been invited to engage in mediation and if they have unreasonably failed to consider doing so or actually done so.

3.2.2. Commencement of proceedings and exchange of pleadings

Litigation is generally commenced in the High Court by the issuing of an originating summons or in some cases by originating notice of motion. The summons informs the Defendant that a Plaintiff has a claim against him and what it is for in general terms. There are four different types of summons but the most common is the plenary summons which is used to start most plenary High Court proceedings other than personal injuries proceedings. It will be followed by a separate Statement of Claim which sets out in detail the particulars of the Plaintiff’s claim and the reliefs claimed. In the Circuit Court, a Civil Bill is the originating document, and is effectively both the summons and the claim.  In either case the Defendant acknowledges the proceedings firstly by entering an Appearance with the Court Office, which is a document which indicates their intention to defend the proceedings, and then by delivering a Defence to the Plaintiff, which sets out the nature of their defence (in particular, which parts of the Plaintiff’s claim are admitted and which parts are denied). A Defence may also include a Counterclaim on behalf of the Defendant against the Plaintiff arising out of the same facts. In the Circuit Court the Civil Bill and the Defence (and Counterclaim) are the only pleadings though in the High Court there may be a reply by the Plaintiff and possibly a rejoinder by the Defendant. After this the pleadings are closed though there is a process whereby the contents of the pleadings may be clarified (called seeking “further and better particulars”).

Where the Defendant does not enter an Appearance or deliver a Defence it is possible for the Plaintiff to claim “Judgement in Default” which means that the Court will find for the Plaintiff without the matter being tried. In reality, this seldom occurs in plenary proceedings and the judgement in default process is more frequently used as a means to compel the Defendant to enter an Appearance or deliver a Defence. (In the summary summons procedure, which is  discussed later, it is possible to obtain “judgement in the Central Office” without any court hearing in an unanswered case if the papers are in order and this may happen more frequently). Less frequent may be an application by the Defendant for “dismissal for want of prosecution” if the Plaintiff does not progress his claim.

3.2.3. Interlocutory/interim applications including Discovery

Once the pleadings are settled there may be various types of interlocutory/interim applications made including applications for injunctions, freezing orders, search orders etc. Some interlocutory/interim type applications are dealt with by the Master of the High Court or a county registrar in the Circuit Court but in both cases their jurisdiction is limited purely to procedural law and not matters of substantive law.

One of the most important interlocutory applications is the discovery process. This is the process for obtaining a list of documents in the possession or control of another party. It is invariably followed by an application for inspection (that is to actually see the documents which have been listed). Normally a letter seeking voluntary discovery is sent which will be followed by an application to the Court. There is a test of relevance and necessity.

3.2.4. Case management
There is no active judicial case management save where particularly provided for in the Rules. One particular instance where case management by the judiciary does occur is in cases in the Commercial List of the High Court. This is to ensure cases in that list are heard with due expedition.

3.2.5. Trial

Once the matter is ready, and if it has not already been settled the matter will be set down for trial. All civil actions in the Circuit Court and nearly all actions in the High Court are heard by a single judge sitting alone. In a small minority of High Court actions a jury may be present (for example in defamation claims). In even rarer cases a Divisional Court (that is the High Court sitting with more than one judge, usually three judges) may sit but this mainly occurs in cases of exceptional public importance. The judge is the arbiter of all matters of law and fact except where there is a jury – if so, then the jury is the arbiter of all matters of fact and the judge is the arbiter of all matters of law. Ireland is a common law system and the judge therefore takes a largely passive role and does not generally pursue evidence on his/her own account, though he/she may from time to time ask additional questions of witnesses who have been called by the parties.

Unless there is a pre trial application for a determination of a preliminary issue the trial will open with the Plaintiff’s case in which his Counsel will make an opening speech followed by the calling of each of the Plaintiff’s witnesses in turn who will be examined in chief by counsel for the Plaintiff, cross-examined, if the Defendant wishes to do so, by counsel for the Defendant and then re-examined (only if cross-examination took place) by the Plaintiff. Afterwards Counsel for the Defendant may make an opening speech (but this is unusual) and then each of the Defendant’s witnesses will be called and examined in chief, cross-examined, and re-examined in turn. The Plaintiff’s counsel may make a closing speech and if they do the Defendant’s counsel is also entitled to make one. Judgement may follow immediately (though in the High Court in particular, it may be “reserved” to a different date, particularly if the judge has decided to give a written judgement). There is the possibility of an appeal from the Circuit Court to the High Court (which is a de novo appeal, that is to say a full rehearing of the case) or from the High Court to the Court of Appeal (on particular grounds). In the latter case there is the possibility of a further appeal to the Supreme Court or sometimes a “leap frog” appeal, directly from the High Court to the Supreme Court, in cases of exceptional circumstances.

3.2.6. Enforcement

An order will be drawn up later in the terms of the judgement which can then be enforced. A usual perquisite to enforcement is to obtain an order of fiere facias which sends the sheriff/county registrar of the county to seize the debtors assets to satisfy the judgement. This is rarely successful (as the sheriff cannot seize “necessities of life”, items required for the debtor’s business and must be sure the debtor actually owns the goods concerned). The writ will therefore normally be marked nulla bona which means that it failed to satisfy the judgement.

Options open to enforce a judgement are:

  • A garnishee order, which orders a third party who owes money to the debtor to pay money to the creditor instead (this is normally the debtor’s employer and the money concerned is part of the debtor’s salary). A statutory version of this is found in family law where it is called an “attachment of earnings order”.
  • A judgement mortgage, which converts the debt into a mortgage over the person’s real property
  • The appointment of a receiver over the debtor’s property
  • Attachment and committal to prison (for contempt of court)

Chart 12. Process map

3.3. Alternative Dispute Resolution

Dispute resolution methods outside the court process are continuing to develop and evolve in Ireland. There are a number of ADR methods available to clients in Ireland.

3.3.1. Mediation

The Legal Aid Board was given responsibility for the State funded family mediation services in 2011. Mediation is a free service to help couples in Ireland who have decided to separate or divorce, or who have already separated, to negotiate their own terms of agreement, while addressing the needs and interests of all involved[1]. The Family Mediation Service encourages the separating couple to co-operate with each other in working out mutually acceptable arrangements on all or any of the following:

  • Parenting the children
  • Financial support
  • Family home and property
  • Other problems related to the separation

The Mediation Act 2017 (the Act) came into force on 1st January 2018. The Act provides a statutory framework to promote the resolution of disputes through mediation as an alternative to court proceedings. The underlying objective of the Act is to promote mediation as a viable, effective and efficient alternative to court proceedings, thereby reducing legal costs, speeding up the resolution of disputes and reducing the disadvantages of court proceedings. The Act:

  • introduces an obligation on solicitors and barristers to advise parties to consider using mediation as a means of resolving disputes;
  • provides that a court may, on its own initiative or on the initiative of any party invite the parties to consider mediation as a means of resolving the dispute;
  • provides for an agreed “stopping of the clock” for the purposes of the Statute of Limitations where parties have entered into an agreement to mediate;
  • contains general principles for the conduct of mediation by qualified mediators;
  • provides that communications between parties during mediation shall be confidential;
  • provides for the possible future establishment of a Mediation Council to oversee development of the sector;
  • provides for the introduction of codes of practice for the conduct of mediation by qualified mediators.

3.3.2. Voluntary Nature of Mediation

Solicitors have an obligation to inform clients about family mediation as a pre-requisite to the issuing of many standard court proceedings (or the filing of a defence to such proceedings). Solicitors must also give clients information about mediation services available in the State and the possible advantages for the client and the other parties of resolving their dispute other than by court action. However, mediation itself, is defined in the Mediation Act as “a confidential, facilitative and voluntary process in which parties to a dispute, with the assistance of a mediator, attempt to reach a mutually acceptable agreement to resolve the dispute”. Because mediation is voluntary, a person cannot be required to use mediation to resolve their dispute. All of the parties must agree to use mediation to try to resolve the dispute and only the parties decide if, when and how to resolve their dispute through mediation.

3.3.3. The Mediation Process

For an appointment with the Family Mediation Service, both parties must contact the mediation service separately to book themselves in and confirm their willingness to attend. Mediation usually takes between 3 and 6 sessions. Each session lasts approximately one hour. A professionally trained mediator assists the couple to reach their own agreement through confidential discussions where the mediator does not take sides. The mediator may make suggestions about how a dispute may be resolved only when requested to do so by all parties[2]. Successful mediations end with a verbal or written agreement  outlining all the details of the couple’s agreement. Although this is not a legal agreement, it can be brought to a solicitor to be drawn into a legal contract or deed of separation or as the basis for a decree of divorce.

3.3.4. Arbitration

Arbitration is one of the oldest forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution and its use in Ireland has been traced back to the Brehon Laws. Arbitration is appropriate in almost all circumstances where litigation before the courts is considered appropriate. It is availed of extensively in relation to international commercial disputes and in respect of both domestic and international disputes arising in the construction and other industries.

It is a process whereby parties agree to refer disputes between them for resolution to an independent third party known as the Arbitrator. The Arbitrator is either agreed by the parties or appointed by an Institution agreed by the parties for the purpose. The mechanism is usually set out in an arbitration clause in a commercial agreement. The Arbitrator works to rules agreed between the parties or, if no such rules are agreed, as laid down by the Arbitration Acts. The Arbitrator is usually an expert in the subject matter of the dispute. Arbitration is similar to court litigation in that it usually involves pleadings and a full hearing based on the law of evidence applicable to Court proceedings.

Arbitration in Ireland is governed by the Arbitration Act 2010. Arbitration relies on the agreement of the parties involved. The parties involved typically agree to submit their disputes to arbitration through an arbitration clause incorporated into the contract between the parties. Occasionally, where a dispute arises and there is no arbitration clause incorporated into the contract, the parties can still agree to submit the dispute to arbitration through a ‘submission agreement’.

Arbitration tends to be somewhat quicker than court proceedings but a substantial arbitration may take approximately one year from beginning to end. This allows for full pleadings, disclosure of documents, witness statements, evidence etc. A simple arbitration, or one that is capable of being conducted on the basis of documents only, should be far more expeditious. Arbitration costs roughly the same as litigation before the Courts. There can be savings in some elements but they are offset by the fact that the parties have to pay for the arbitrator and the venue but not for the judge or the Court.

An arbitrator has the same powers as a judge to award costs against an unsuccessful party. A party may however apply to set aside an arbitrators award in certain circumstances. This rarely occurs. If an application is made to set aside the arbitrators award, and that application is refused by the High Court, there is no appeal against that decision to the Court of Appeal.

3.3.5. Adjudication

The Irish government introduced statutory adjudication in relation to payment disputes under construction contracts through the enactment of the Construction Contracts Act 2013 (the “Act”). The Act applies to all contracts to which the legislation relates entered into after the 25th July 2016. While statutory adjudication only relates to construction contracts, it is possible to extend adjudication into other sectors by contract, or by agreement between the parties in dispute.

An independent third party is paid by those in dispute to consider the contractual issues involved and gives a decision which is temporarily binding in a similar process to Arbitration but without the difficulty associated with finality[3].

3.3.6. Conciliation

Conciliation is a process similar to mediation whereby the conciliator seeks to facilitate a settlement between the parties. In Ireland conciliation is rarely availed of except in respect of construction industry disputes. Under the industry defined procedures for conciliation, the conciliator is obliged to issue a recommendation for the resolution of the dispute if the parties fail to reach settlement.

Conciliation usually arises out of a clause in a construction contract whereby the parties agree to attempt to resolve their dispute through conciliation. The clause provides for the conciliator being appointed by the agreement of the parties or by a specific institution. The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland and Engineers Ireland publish conciliation procedures, one of which will generally apply. The conciliator will attempt to facilitate a settlement between the parties. If this cannot be achieved they will publish a recommendation setting out the basis on which they believe the dispute should be resolved[4].

3.3.7. Expert Determination

Expert determination is a private and confidential method of dispute resolution whereby disputing parties appoint an expert to determine a matter of fact, valuation or law, in a final and binding manner.  Where an expert’s decision is not binding but advisory, then this process is known as “Expert Evaluation”[5]. There are five steps to the process: Appointment, Preliminary meeting, Written submissions, Investigation, Determination.

Expert determination is ideally suited to disputes in matters of valuation such as insurance wording disputes, sale of goods disputes, fitness for purpose and boundary disputes. Expert determination can also be used where there is no dispute but a difference which needs to be resolved, for example the valuation of a private business.

3.3.8. Collaborative Law Practice

The aim of collaborative practice is to find a sustainable solution for people who are in family disputes. The essence of the process is that it is in the best interest of the participants to try to resolve the disputes in a non-confrontational way. It is an approach that aims to address the needs of the whole family and bring about resolution through the participation of both parties and their collaborative solicitors, meeting together and resolving all issues by structured discussion. Resolution is based on a commitment to the open sharing of all relevant information and a joint common aim to achieve outcomes through discussion and without the costs, delay, and additional trauma of court litigation. The couple and their collaborative solicitors control the content and timing of the process, and the couple decide upon and agree the outcomes. It is intended that by facing the facts of the separation or divorce in an open, cooperative manner, each participant will seek to achieve lasting solutions that reflect the needs of all involved. However, if either of the participants decides to discontinue the process, then the process ends and both collaborative solicitors must withdraw. If either of the parties decides that they wish to go to court, then neither of the collaborative solicitors involved in the collaborative process can become involved[6].

Collaborative practice is practised in Ireland primarily in the area of family law though the extent to which it is practiced is unclear and, while there was significant impetus 10 to 15 years ago to make it a meaningful dispute resolution option arguably it did not get sufficient traction to make it a mainstream option.


Article 40.1 of Bunreacht Na hÉireann (the Constitution of Ireland) states:

“All citizens shall, as human persons, be held equal before the law.”

The information in 5.1 of this report also has relevance here whereby it outlines the historical development of the civil and criminal legal aid legislation to ensure equal access to representation and fair trial before the Courts.

4.1. Responsibility for access to justice policy

The Minister for Justice and Equality has responsibility for access to justice policy at Government level.

4.2. Public and scholarly debate around access to justice

There is an iterative debate around access to justice policy in Ireland at the time of writing. By way of example three specific examples are listed below:

  • In May 2019, Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC), an Irish NGO, held its annual conference with the theme of “Access to Justice” in which stakeholders from across the legal landscape – practicing and academic – gave presentations on the theme.
  • In October 2019 the Oireachtas (the Irish houses of parliament) Joint Committee on Justice and Equality published its report on reform of the Family Law System. This report contained 38 recommendations, many of which fall under a wider consideration of access to justice issues in the area of family law.
  • In November 2019 representatives of the Board were invited to appear before the Oireachtas (the Irish houses of parliament) Joint Committee on Justice and Equality.   This invitation was extended to the Bar Council of Ireland, the Law Society of Ireland and a number of other stakeholders for the purpose of making presentations, and contributing to a debate on, access to justice and legal costs.


6.1. Overview of judicial costs for litigants

In civil proceedings (except family law, public law child care, and certain civil actions arising out of criminal proceedings) fees must be paid. Generally a fee is payable for the issuing of an originating document (an originating summons or civil bill), entering an appearance, filing an affidavit, setting down an action for trial, and issuing a witness summons (subpoena ad testificandum), and on entering judgement in the office (where a case is not contested).

Fees are payable in many more circumstances and it would be beyond the scope of this document to set out the full list of fees payable (which differ in each court) however a full list of court fees is available on Some of the general headings under which fees may be charged are:

  • In probate (the settlement of the estate of a deceased) matters
  • In making an appeal
  • Depositing or searching for a power of attorney
  • Enrolling a deed or other document
  • In admiralty and bankruptcy cases
  • In relation to the handling of funds lodged in court
  • In relation to the adjudication of legal costs between parties
  • In relation to the management of the affairs of a ward of court (a person taken into the protection of the Court because they are unable to manage their own affairs)

Generally a fee must be paid into the Court office and the document will be “stamped” – this is often referred to as “stamp duty” (but this name is also applied to a tax payable in certain circumstances which have nothing to do with legal proceedings).

6.1.1. The legal basis for exemption from legal costs.

Section 33 (6) of the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 states:

(6) The Board shall be entitled to recover the costs incurred by it in providing legal aid or advice and the amount of costs recoverable by the Board under this section shall be such sum as may be determined by the Board having regard to section 34 or, in default of between the person in receipt of the legal aid or advice and the Board, be—

( a ) in the case of a person in receipt of legal aid, such sum as may, at the discretion of the court or tribunal concerned, either be—

 (i) measured by the court or tribunal in accordance with section 34, or

(ii) determined by the Taxing Master—

(I) in accordance with the rules (if any) of the court or tribunal concerned, and

(II) in the absence of any such rules, as solicitor or client costs,


( b ) in the case of a person in receipt of legal advice, such sum as may be determined by the Taxing Master as solicitor and client costs.

The entitlement to recover costs by the Board is therefore set by way of legislation. However, what is further set by legislation, in the same section of the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 are the varying circumstances where the Board shall and may waive costs.

(8) The Board—

( a ) shall waive any right to any money or other property to which it is entitled under this section, to the extent that such money or other property consists of—

(i) a house or portion thereof (including normal household chattels) being the normal place of residence of the recipient of legal aid or advice concerned,

(ii) a periodical or lump sum payment of maintenance,

(iii) the first £2,500 of any moneys payable by way of arrears of maintenance under an agreement in writing or order of any court, or

(iv) the first £2,500 of any moneys payable by way of arrears or lump sum under the Social Welfare Acts, the Health Acts, 1947 to 1994, the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 to 1993, the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Acts, 1973 to 1991, the Employment Equality Act, 1977 , the Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Act, 1974, or the Redundancy Payments Acts, 1967 to 1991,


( b ) may, in whole or in part, waive any right to any money or other property to which it is entitled under this section if, in the opinion of the Board, not to do so would be likely to create hardship for the recipient of legal aid or advice concerned.

Thus the exemption from certain costs is set by way of legislation with a provision that allows a vulnerable person to seek a waiver of the costs incurred and the Board may grant that waiver, if a legislative obligation to waive those costs is not already available to the client.  The assessment of when the Board may waive costs is done on a case by case basis.

6.1.2. The eligibility criteria for exemption from judicial costs

The exemption from costs is set by way of legislation for some litigated matters.  Where the exemption is a discretionary one, decision makers within the organisation have guidelines to follow to assess the eligibility to grant the exemption and whether that grant should be a full exemption or a partial one. The general eligibility criteria available to decision makers are as follows:

Grant a full waiver if (one of these criteria and none of the criteria to consider refusing are true):

  • The money lodged is the proceeds of the sale of the family home
    • and amounts to less than €50,000
    • and the applicant wishes to use the money to buy a new property in which to live
  • The money lodged is from any other source and amounts to less than €4,000.
  • The applicant suffered a financial loss and the money would compensate them for that loss
  • The applicant lost the house in which they lived as a result of the proceedings
    • and they wish to use the money to buy a new property in which to live
  • Where the money lodged is of such a low amount that any recovery of costs, even after a partial waiver, would lead to the applicant having gotten no benefit from the proceedings in the first place.
  • The applicant’s personal circumstances are such that in the decision maker’s view, it would be just to grant a full waiver.

Grant a partial waiver if (one of these criteria and none of the criteria to consider refusing are true):

  • The money lodged is the proceeds of the sale of the family home
    • and amounts to more than €50,000 but less than €76,000
    • and the applicant wishes to use the money to buy a new property in which to live
  • The money lodged is from any other source and amounts to more than €4,000 and less than €18,000”

6.1.3. Applying for exemption from judicial costs

As per the responses to (a) and (b) above the granting of the exemption (within the Legal Aid Board known as “waiving our right to recover costs”) is granted by the organisation itself.  The process for applying for the exemption is as follows:

Following an application by the client for an exemption of their costs, the following is undertaken:

  • The law centre which dealt with the client’s case conducts a new financial assessment of the applicant (documentary evidence may be provided);
  • The solicitor to take instructions as to what the client intends to use the money recovered for and if there is the possibility, in their opinion, that the client would be able obtain funds for the same purpose elsewhere;
  • The solicitor for their opinion as to whether the client would face hardship;
  • An application for an exemption of the costs is made on the organisation’s case management system to be dealt with by decision makers in the head office.

If an applicant is aggrieved by the decision on their waiver of costs it is a matter that is reviewable and appealable as per the mechanism outlined in the item 5.8.3 of this report. Once the costs are waived by the Board it is the end of the matter for the client save for the administrative process of placing the client in the funds.

6.1.4. Costs awarded against a legally aided client

The position when a legally aided client has an award of costs made against them is set by way of legislation and outlines that the costs shall not be paid by the Legal Aid Board.  Section 36 (1) of the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 refers:

Costs awarded by a court or tribunal to a person not in receipt of legal aid (referred to subsequently in this section as “the successful litigant”) against a person who is so in receipt (referred to subsequently in this section as “the unsuccessful litigant”) shall not, save in accordance with subsection (2), be paid out of the Fund[1].

An exception to this is in sub section 2 of the same section of the Act that states, the Board may make an ex gratia payment to the successful litigant in circumstances where:

(a) the proceedings were instituted by the unsuccessful litigant,

  (b) the successful litigant has taken all reasonable steps to recover his or her costs from the unsuccessful litigant in person,

  (c) the successful litigant will suffer severe financial hardship unless an ex gratia payment is made,

  (d) the ex gratia payment will not exceed the amount that would be allowed if the costs were taxed on a party and party basis, and

  (e) the case has been finally determined.

Finally, it should be worth noting, in the context of the details provided in this section that the Courts, by way of legislation, cannot take into consideration whether the litigant(s) is/are legally aided when making a determination as regards costs.   Section 33 (2) of the Act below refers:

A court or tribunal shall make an order for costs in a matter in which any of the parties is in receipt of legal aid in like manner and to the like effect as the court or tribunal would otherwise make if no party was in receipt of legal aid and all parties had respectively obtained the services of a solicitor or barrister or both, as appropriate, at their own expense.

6.2. Mechanisms to reduce costs by variations to courts and procedures

6.2.1. Summary procedure in the High Court / Summary judgement in the Circuit Court
In the High Court, it is possible to issue summary proceedings for a claim for a liquidated sum, a possession claim (in certain circumstances in commercial landlord and tenant matters) or for an “account”. If the claim is uncontested judgement will be granted by the Central Office without any hearing of any kind. If the Defendant indicates their intention to defend the claim the case will go before the Master of the High Court but in order to put the matter before a judge the Defendant will need to swear a replying affidavit. The matter will be dealt with primarily on affidavit but if there are issues of fact between the parties that need to be tried then the judge will order that the matter go to plenary hearing and give directions for the exchange of pleadings, if required.

Summary judgement can also be granted in the Circuit Court in certain proceedings (e.g. in a claim for a liquidated sum).

6.2.2. Small claims court
A Small Claims Procedure (informally “the small claims court”) exists in the District Court which applies to claims of less than €2,000 in the following categories:

  • a claim for goods or services bought for private use from someone selling them in the course of a business (consumer claims)
  • a claim for goods or services bought for business use from someone selling them in the course of a business (business claims)
  • a claim for minor damage to property (but excluding personal injuries)
  • a claim for the non-return of a rent deposit for certain kinds of rented properties.

The court fee for taking a small claim is €25 and it is possible to apply online. The claim will be dealt with by the Small Claims Registrar and he/she may try to negotiate a settlement between the parties. If necessary the Small Claims Registrar may call both parties to a meeting in an effort to resolve the dispute. If the dispute cannot be resolved informally it will be listed before a normal sitting of the District Court and it is up to the parties whether or not they wish to retain legal representation at their own expense (civil legal aid is not available for proceedings taken in the small claims court).

6.2.3. Administrative tribunals
Parliament has established a number of administrative tribunals for the purpose of dealing with certain types of matters on a more informal and cheaper basis than the regular courts system. These tribunals include:

Chart 20. Administrative tribunals

Name of tribunal Matters dealt with
Workplace Relations Commission Employment law and equality matters (not necessarily employment based)
Labour Court Second tier tribunal that deals with appeals of decisions of the WRC in employment law matters
Personal Injuries Assessment Board Personal injuries claims
Residential Tenancies Board Landlord and tenant matters involving private residential tenancies and housing associations
International Protection Appeals Tribunal Appeals of first-instance decisions regarding applications for asylum and subsidiary protection in the State
Adoption Authority Making of adoption orders and related matters
Mental Health Tribunal Review of admission orders and renewal orders where a person is involuntarily admitted by a medical professional to a mental health care facility.
Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal Awards of compensation to certain victims of criminal acts
Mental Health (Criminal Law) Review Board Review of persons detained in secure mental health care facilities after a finding of “not guilty by reason of insanity” in criminal proceedings or after being transferred from prison to such a facility.

The legislature occasionally sets up other tribunals for specific purposes; such tribunals have included the Residential Institutions Redress Board and the CervicalCheck Tribunal.

As a general principle administrative tribunals (including the Labour Court) are not regarded as courts of law[2] and their members are not judges. Parties are free to engage legal representation though the extent to which this is actually done varies and the general intention is that tribunals should be accessible without legal representation. With the exception of the International Protection Appeals Tribunal, legal aid under the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 is not available at tribunals. That said, there are specific schemes for state-funded legal aid at Mental Health Tribunals and the Criminal Law (Mental Health) Review Board that fall outside of the scope of the 1995 Act.

6.2.4. Public inquiries
Administrative tribunals are not to be confused with a second sense in which the word “tribunal” is frequently used in Ireland, which is a public inquiry established by the legislature pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921. This second type of tribunal (which, though it is a creature of the legislative rather than judicial branch, is nonetheless often chaired by a recently retired senior judge) is an inquiry into a particular topic of public interest defined by terms of reference set by Parliament. Its role is to make findings of fact which are generally set out in a report to Parliament. While it is frequent for witnesses called to a public inquiry to engage legal representation, as a general rule legal aid is not available in relation to public inquiries either, though witnesses may be awarded their legal costs against the State.


There is no legislative framework in Ireland to facilitate class actions. However, multiparty or multi-plaintiff litigation does occur and may be brought through ‘representative actions’ and ‘test cases’[1].

7.1. Test Cases and Representative Actions

The Rules of the Superior Court allow for one or more persons to sue or be sued or be authorised by the court to defend a matter on behalf of or for the benefit of all interested persons where numerous persons have the same interest in a cause or matter. Furthermore, various statutory provisions allow for a person or persons to sue in a representative capacity. The basis for test cases is the jurisdiction of the court to make directions in respect of the trial of proceedings and in its duty to ensure that the resources of parties to litigation are not inappropriately wasted by unneccessary duplication. Test cases are not limited to any particular types of action. However, in practice these procedures are typically utilised in tort actions where a negligent act or misrepresentation has affected a number of people who wish to have their rights vindicated. For example, claims for the mis-selling of financial products will often involve an allegation that the financial service provider committed the torts of misrepresentation or negligent misstatement.

In order to bring a representative action there must be ‘a common interest, a common grievance and relief in its nature beneficial to all’[2]. There is deemed to be sufficient ‘common interest’ where a dispute involves joint beneficial entitlement to property, such as customary rights or corporate shareholdings. In contrast, the courts have refused to extend the representative procedure to actions founded in tort outlined by the Supreme Court in Moore v. Attorney General (No. 2)[3].

7.2. Recent Developments

The law on litigation funding in Ireland has been subject to considerable clarification in recent years. The Contempt of Court Bill was published in late 2017 and included provisions to abolish the offences of maintenance and champerty. Both the Bill and the issue of litigation funding are two of the issues being considered by Mr. Justice Peter Kelly in the Review of Civil Justice Administration[4]. The objective of the review is to identify recommendations that would improve access to civil justice in Ireland. McLements and McCluskey (2019) in their review of class actions in Ireland note that “almost 14 years have now passed since the Law Reform Commission recommended that a formal procedural structure be put in place to deal with multiparty litigation, however, this recommendation has yet to be implemented and does not form part of the government’s current legislative programme”. Furthermore, the authors note that “the absence of a formal structure does not seem to have impeded multiparty litigation in this jurisdiction and, in the absence of legislative reform, it can be anticipated that multiparty litigation will continue to proceed on the basis of test cases for the foreseeable future”[5].


9.1. Access to technology

According to a CSO publication in 2018, 89% of households have an internet connection an increase of 17% since 2010. Data for 2018 indicates that fixed broadband is the most common type of internet access in the household (82% compared with 52% using mobile broadband). Fixed broadband connection is highest in the Dublin region at 90%, compared with the Border and Midlands regions, at 69% and 67% respectively. In 2018, of the 11% of households with no internet access, 40% reported that the reason for no household internet access was that they Do not need internet, while for three in every ten (30%), this was due to a Lack of skills and 8% have Access to the internet elsewhere. Other barriers reported included Broadband internet not available in the area (6%), Equipment costs too high (5%) and Access costs too high (3%).[1]

A Mobile Consumer Survey notes that 88% of smartphone owners using their devices on a daily basis.[2] The Survey highlights that:

  • 93% of Irish consumers own or have access to a smartphone,
  • 97% of people have access to some form of mobile phone (smartphone/phone).
  • The number of +65 year olds with access to an e-reader has increased from 30% to 45%.
  • Access to tablets among the 65+ market has grown from 57% in 2017 to 70% in 2018.
  • 82% of consumers have access to a connected device.
  • 33% of Irish consumers use their smartphone to monitor their fitness levels.
  • 81% of Irish people consider the quality and coverage of their mobile network’s data coverage to be very important
  • 76% of Irish 18-24 year olds have a “pay as you go” contract.
  • 68% of Irish consumers use their phones to check their personal email at least once a day.
  • Irish smartphone users look at their phones 55 times a day on average.
  • 13% of Irish people admit to checking their phones over 100 times a day.
  • 56% of Irish smartphone users think they use their phones too much against 39% in the UK.
  • 79% of Irish people use their smartphones for work related business activities.
  • 73% of people have used mobile/online banking on their phones (5% increase on last year).

9.2. Technological Assisted Service Delivery

Public service delivery across the public service in Ireland is generally assisted by technology. The government’s “Our Public Service 2020” strategic document emphasises the importance of improving services for customers and making services more accessible to all[3]. The Public Service in Ireland is increasingly focused on improving the use of technology to enhance access to service delivery by improving face-to-face, telephone, written and web-based interaction with customers as recommended in “Our Public Service 2020”. Furthermore, the “Design for Digital” approach in the Public Service ICT Strategy encourages the use of digital services for those who choose to do so[4].

Within the legal sphere, the use of technology has increased over the last decade. In private practice the use of technology for business purposes is considered the norm.  As a gauge of the use of technology by legal practitioners concerned with low income clients, the Legal Aid Board has anecdotally been referred to as the largest family law practice in Ireland and serves primarily those that cannot afford legal representation elsewhere.  It uses a case management package and it also has a secure email function in order to communicate with clients electronically. Furthermore, technology is being used to assist to identify eligibly for services. The Legal Aid Board has an online eligibility checker.

FLAC, the Free Legal Advice Centre is the largest NGO in Ireland, an independent voluntary organisation, promoting access to justice for all citizens.  Its use of technology is very evident through its website with a fully searchable legal information database and its use of a telephone advice line.  Furthermore, there is extensive information online from the Citizens Information, a statutory body which supports the provision of information, advice and advocacy on a broad range of public and social services.

The Courts Services of Ireland has a number of guides on it website with regard self representation in court together with, for example, links for the court documents required, statute deadlines, etc.  which aim to help self-represented litigants to take their own cases. The Public Interest Law Alliance, a project of FLAC, has an extensive website to assist private legal practitioners in the area of pro bono work. Further, one would have to assume that as the use of technology for business purposes in private practice is considered the norm this would extend to assisting in the delivery of pro bono services by private legal practitioners.

The Legal Aid Board does not have a working from home policy (other than in the most exceptional circumstances). The Board does not partake in campaigning and advocacy on social media.  The Board does have a social media presence for information purposes only however.

The Board communicates with private practitioners primarily via a secured email service.  It is compulsory for entry on to any of the Board’s private practitioner schemes that the solicitor has access to e-mail facilities and must have IT software that is compatible with Microsoft Office software in order to ensure the effective and efficient administration of the Scheme.

9.3. The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL) and the Open Society Justice Initiative

In 2014, the Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL) completed the project “Legal Aid in Europe: Nine Different Ways to Guarantee Access to Justice[5]”.  Ireland was one of the nice countries that were subject to comparison.  Of note is that the project report opened with a quote from the Airey v. Ireland 1979 case as noted in section 5.1 of this report. There is a working alliance of barristers, solicitors and academics supported by the Open Society Justice Initiative active in Ireland. There is nothing immediately evident to suggest that their work relates to technological improvement in the area.


Council Directive 2003/8/EC provides reciprocal arrangements for obtaining legal aid among Member States of the European Union (excluding Denmark who do not participate in the Directive). Effectively the Directive provides that a citizen of any EU member state may apply for legal aid in any other member state of the EU and a common application form has been prescribed by the European Commission for this purpose. Individual legal aid agencies act as transmitting and receiving agents for the purposes of this Directive. The rules for obtaining legal aid in the jurisdiction the proceedings will be heard generally apply but there are some variations in terms of scope.

A formal relationship for the purposes of sharing information and experiences exists between the legal aid authorities in Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man and Guernsey through a “Joint Consultative Committee” which meets annually. The Legal Aid Board is also represented at the International Legal Aid Group.


[1] Constitution of Ireland: Article 12.3.

[2] The Supreme Court of Ireland (n.d) The Legal System. Available at:

[3] CSO (2017) Census 2016 Summary Results, Available at:

[4] CSO (2017) Population change and historical perspective. Available at:

[5] CSO (2017) Census of Population 2016 – Profile 8 Irish Travellers, Ethnicity and Religion. Available at:

[6] Index of Economic Freedom 2019. Available at:

[7] It should be noted that there are significant concerns with using GDP as a measure of Ireland’s economy due to the distorting effects of multinational companies operating in Ireland.

[8] OECD (2019) Gross Domestic Product. Available at:

[9] Modified GNI is an indicator that was recommended by the Economic Statistics Review Group and is designed to exclude globalisation effects that are disproportionally impacting the measurement of the size of the Irish economy.

[10] CSO (2019) National Income and Expenditure 2018. Available at:

[11] 2019 Human Development Index Ranking, Available at:

[12] Source: Courts Service Annual Report 2018

[13] Source: Courts Service Annual Report 2018

[14] Citizens Information. Family Mediation Service. Available at:

[15] Law Society of Ireland (n.d) Legal Guides – Dispute Resolution. Available at:

[16] Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Ireland. Available at: Institute of Arbitrators Ireland. Available at:

[17] Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Ireland. Available at:

[18] Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Ireland, Available at:

[19] Law Society of Ireland (2018) ADR Guide Available at:

[20]  Dáil Éireann debates, 15 February 1962 (Vol. 193 No. 2)

[21] Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962 (Commencement) Order 1965, SI No. 13 of 1965

[22] SI No. 12 of 1965.  Signed by Minister for Justice 12 January 1965 and by Minister for Finance 20 January 1965.

[23] Article 6.3(c) requires that every person charged with a criminal offence has the right “to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require”.

[24] Gideon v. Wainwright 75 (1963) 372 US 335

[25] The Regulation was made prior to the enactment of the Court of Appeal Act 2014; while never amended, the Board treats the Regulation as if it also encompassed the Court of Appeal, which has a purely appellate jurisdiction in any case.

[26] “The Fund” essentially refers to the Legal Aid Board’s financial resources.

[27] This is the position in Irish domestic law; however, there is caselaw of the Court of Justice of the European Union to the effect that a tribunal may be regarded as a court at least for the purposes of Article 264 of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union, that is, they may refer a question of EU law to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling.

[28] McLements & McCluskey (2019) The Class Actions Law Review – Ireland. Available at:

[29] Duke of Bedford v. Ellis.

[30] Law Reform Commission Consultation Paper on Multi-Party Litigation (Class Actions) 2003.

[31] Review of the Administration of Civil Justice. Available at:

[32] McLements & McCluskey (2019) The Class Actions Law Review – Ireland. Available at:

[33] Traditionally the terms “The Law Library” and “The Bar of Ireland” were somewhat interchangeable – the term “practising barrister” was effectively synonymous with “member of the Law Library”. Nowadays, and particularly since the commencement of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015, a person may be a practising barrister but not a member of the Library, particularly as the new LSRA defines the term “practising barrister” in a wider way so as to include in-house counsel who would traditionally not have been covered by the term. Notwithstanding this, the Law Library has recently adopted the “The Bar of Ireland” as its corporate identity. The Bar Council of Ireland is the governing body of the Law Library and comprises 25 members elected by the membership of the Library.

[34] The Honorable Society of Kings Inns requires a candidate for admission to its degree programme to either have an undergraduate law degree or to have completed its own Diploma in Legal Studies which is effectively akin to such a degree; candidates must also pass in a single sitting the Entrance Examination which comprises five examinations in substantive law. The Law Society of Ireland requires candidates to have an undergraduate degree (which need not necessarily be in law); the Society also requires candidates to pass the Final Examination – First Part (FE-1) which comprises of eight examinations in substantive law.

[35] CSO (2018) Information Society Statistics – Households. Available at:

[36] Deloitte (2018) Global Mobile Consumer Survey 2018: The Irish cut. Available at:

[37] Government of Ireland (2017) Our Public Service 2020. Available at:

[38] Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (2015) Public Service ICT Strategy. Available at:

[39] Barendreacht, M, Kistemaker, L., Jan Scholten, H.J., Schrader, R., Wrzesinska, M. 2014.  “Legal Aid in Europe: Nine Different Ways to Guarantee Access to Justice”.   Available at

[40] FLAC (2009) Civil Legal Aid in Ireland, 40 Years On, p.18 Available at:

[41] ibid

[42] FLAC (2009) p. 21.

[43] Dr. Moling Ryan (2008) Access to Justice. A Study of the Legal Needs of Clients of the Citizens Information Service.

[44] Noeleen Blackwell (2014) Access to Legal Aid as part of access to justice: A rigid or discretionary right? Available at:

[45] Irish Times (2018) The Irish Times view on free legal aid: a vital public service. Available at:

[46] Eilis Barry (2019) The need for access to justice has not diminished. Available at:

[47][47] Law Society of Ireland. Civil Legal Aid in Ireland – Information for the Profession. Available at:

[48] Legal Aid Board Annual Report 2018. Available at:

[49] Law Society of Ireland. Street Law Prison. Available at:

PILA. Supporting clinical legal education, Available at:


[51] Courts Service Ireland. Available at: