The Courts Act, 2016 ("the Act") was enacted on 28 December 2016. The main purpose of the Act is to deal with the implications of the decision of Mr. Justice Hogan of the Court of Appeal, delivered on 28 July 2016 in the case of Permanent TSB Plc -v- David Langan, relating to the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court to deal with proceedings involving properties which are no longer rateable under the Valuation Act 2001 ("the 2001 Act"). In November 2016, Permanent TSB Plc was granted leave by the Supreme Court to appeal the decision of Mr. Justice Hogan and it is anticipated that the decision will be delivered in or around April 2017. Further details of the Langan decision can be found here.
The relevant sections of the Act can be summarised as follows:
Section 1: the Civil Liability and Courts Act, 2004 ("the 2004 Act") is amended by the insertion of a new section 53A, which provides a rebuttable presumption as to the market value of land for the purpose of conferring or limiting the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court in civil proceedings where the plaintiff alleges that the market value of the land concerned does not exceed such monetary amount. With effect from 11 January 2017, S.I. No. 2 of 2017 commenced, inter alia, section 45 of the 2004 Act, which confers jurisdiction on the Circuit Court in relation to property matters where the land has a market value of not more than €3,000,000.00. The onus of proof therefore lies with the defendant to show that the market value of the subject property exceeds €3,000,000.00. In effect, from 11 January 2017, the Circuit Court's jurisdiction in property matters is based on the market value of the property rather than its rateable valuation. However, section 53A does not apply to proceedings issued before 28 December 2016.
Section 3: the 2001 Act is amended by the insertion of a new section 60(3), which provides that the production of a certificate issued pursuant to section 67(4) purporting to state the value of a property will be sufficient evidence of rateable valuation until the contrary is proved. This remedies the finding of Mr. Justice Noonan of the High Court in the case of Bank of Ireland -v- Hanley and Giblin that such certificates are hearsay evidence. Section 3 came into effect on 28 December 2016 meaning that for any existing proceedings issued prior to 28 December 2016, which cannot be saved by the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act, 2009 or the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act, 2013, a section 67 certificate will be required to establish the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court to deal with those proceedings.
The Act provides a welcome remedy for some of the issues arising out of the Langan decision and in light of these amendments, it is not apparent what the pending appeal of that decision can achieve.