The commercial division of the Irish High Court was set up in January 2004 for the purposes of facilitating more expedient and efficient trials of commercial disputes. The Commercial Court can hear any commercial claims in excess of €1 million or any intellectual property claims dealing with patents, copyright, trade marks, designs or passing off. The Commercial Court rules provide for active case management of cases by judges and can compel litigating parties to agree various issues between them before the matter goes to trial.
The recent statistics that were published by the Commercial Court on 30 November 2008 demonstrate how effective the Commercial Court has been in resolving business disputes since it was set up. On average it takes 21 weeks from the date a case is entered into the Commercial Court for the case to be heard at trial, with 50 per cent of cases being concluded within 16 weeks and 90 per cent of cases within 47 weeks. The effectiveness of the Commercial Court can also be seen from the fact that approximately 65 per cent of cases settle within these short time frames. This has the added benefit of cases settling much earlier than may normally be the case thereby reducing overall costs for the parties. For intellectual property matters, the speed at which a party can seek to have an IP case determined by the Commercial Court at trial provides IP rights owners with a viable alternative to seeking an interlocutory injunction and then having to proceed to full trial on the issues.