The Court of Appeal was established on the 28th October 2014 under The Court of Appeal Act, 2014. A backlog of appeals in civil cases from the High Court had accumulated to such an extent that there was a delay of up to four years before having an appeal heard by the Supreme Court hence the practical necessity for such a Court of Appeal. Its main function is to hear appeals from the High Court and the Circuit Court in civil cases. It also took over the role of the Court of Criminal Appeal in dealing with criminal matters and the Court of Criminal Appeal no longer exists. The only appeals that now go to the Supreme Court are those which raise issues of major public importance or where the interests of justice require such an appeal.
The Court of Appeal has a president and nine judges and the Chief Justice and President of the High Court are also additional judges. The president of the Court of Appeal distributes and allocates the work and matters coming before it are normally heard and determined by three judges except for interlocutory and procedural matters which would come before a single judge.
In civil matters the Court of Appeal can hear appeals from decisions of the High Court; it may give a ruling on a question of law submitted by the Circuit Court and it can hear appeals from cases heard in the High Court about whether or not a particular law is constitutional.
In criminal matters the Court of Appeal hears appeals against convictions or sentences given by the Circuit Criminal Court, the Central Criminal Court and the Special Criminal Court. Interestingly although criminal cases are heard and determined by three judges, the Court of Appeal gives one judgment only unless there is a constitutional issue involved. The existence of a dissenting opinion is not made public.
The Court of Appeal also has a role, which is not invoked very often, whereby it can hear appeals from people who have been convicted by a Court Marshall which is a Military Court.
Decision of the Court of Appeal can only be appealed to the Supreme Court.
Since the establishment of the Court of Appeal it has made the functioning of the Courts system much more efficient and greatly alleviated the work load of the Supreme Court and is now an essential component of the Irish Courts system.
For any legal queries or difficulties please consult:
O’Hara Solicitors, Cross Street, Athenry, County Galway Telephone 091 844045.
First consultation is free