The Court of Appeal (the Court) was formally established on 28 October 2014.

The Rules governing appeals to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court following the Act are contained in SI 495 of 2014 Rules of the Superior Courts (Court of Appeal Act 2014) 2014 (the Rules).

The legislation governing the new Court of Appeal is contained in Thirty-Third Amendment of the Constitution (Court of Appeal) Act 2013 and the Courts of Appeal Act 2014 (the Act).

The Court has all appellate jurisdiction which was, immediately before the establishment day vested in or capable of being exercised by the Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeal or the Courts Martial Appeal Court

The Court will sit in divisions of three and a number of divisions can sit at the same time.  However, procedural and interlocutory matters can be dealt with by the President or any other judge nominated by the President sitting alone.

In criminal matters only one judgment shall be given by the Court.

The rules provide that all matters before the Court of Appeal shall be prepared for hearing or determination in a manner which is just, expeditious and likely to minimise the costs of the proceedings.

There will be a heavy emphasis in the Court on case management and many of the new rules have their genesis in the Commercial Court. It should also be noted that a number of the judges of the Court are formerly Commercial Court judges and are likely to bring that experience to bear in the conduct of appeals.

Existing Appeals

The transitional provisions contained in Article 64.3.1 of the Constitution provide that on or after the establishment day the Chief Justice may (if satisfied that it is in the interests of the administration of justice and the efficient determination of appeals to do so, and with the concurrence of the other judges of the Supreme Court) give a direction providing that each appeal falling within a class of appeals specified in the direction shall be heard and determined by the Court of Appeal.

The Chief Justice issued a Direction on 28 October 2014 under this provision setting out the categories of appeal to be transferred to the Court of Appeal.

While the Direction of the Chief Justice refers to both certified and non-certified appeals the Information Notice on the Courts website states:

As a result of the direction, 327 appeals certified as ready for hearing ("certified appeals") will be retained by the Supreme Court, and 258 certified appeals will transfer to the Court of Appeal.

Thus, it would seem, that only certified appeals that have been transferred so far.

If a case is remitted to the Court of Appeal, the Notice of Appeal to Supreme Court shall stand as the Notice of Appeal to the Court of Appeal and each document delivered in the Supreme Court appeal shall be deemed to be the corresponding document delivered in an appeal to the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court Registrar shall deliver all lodged documents to the Court of Appeal Registrar. The Court of Appeal may make any order or give any direction under the new Order 86, for the effective continuance of the appeal before the Court of Appeal as that court considers necessary.

New Appeals

There are two types of civil appeals to the Court of Appeal:

  1. Expedited Appeal
  2. Ordinary Appeal

Expedited appeals

These will arise in the following categories of appeals:

  • Article 40 of the Constitution
  • Interlocutory orders
  • Summary judgment
  • Orders for winding up, appointment of a liquidator, appointment of a receiver, an order in examinership proceedings
  • Bankruptcy adjudication, debt settlement or PIA arrangements
  • Child abduction and enforcement of custody
  • Wards of court
  • European arrest warrant
  • Order of prohibition in criminal proceedings
  • Ex parte order
  • Any other appeal designated in a statutory practice direction

In an expedited appeal the appellant shall lodge a Notice of Expedited Appeal within 10 days from the date of the perfection of the Order which is to be served within 4 days of issue. The Respondent shall within 7 days after service of the Notice of Expedited Appeal lodge and serve the Respondent's Notice. 

Ordinary AppealsThese are all appeals which are not expedited appeals. A Notice of Appeal shall be lodged within 28 days of the date of perfection of the order being appealed from and is to be served within 7 days of issue. The Respondent's Notice must be lodged and served within 21 days of service of the Notice of Appeal.

Both expedited and ordinary appeals will be given a date for a directions hearing. 

Court of Appeal Practice Direction (civil cases)

The first Practice Direction in respect of civil appeals has also been published. In essence, it provides for some leeway for time in lodging Notices of Expedited Appeals and correcting Non-Compliant Notices of Appeal at the initial stages.

Location

The new Court of Appeal will initially sit in Court 29 at the Four Courts. When works are completed, two Courts of Appeal will be located in the Public Records Building. When hearing criminal appeals the Court of Appeal will sit at the Criminal Courts of Justice.

New Appeals to the Supreme Court

In future appellants will need to apply for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court and such leave will only be granted where it is a matter of general public importance and in the interests of justice it is necessary that there be an appeal to the Supreme Court.

All applications for leave to appeal need to be brought within 28 days of perfection of the order being appealed from and served on the relevant parties within 7 days.

The Respondent's Notice to the Notice of Appeal is to be filed within 14 days after service of the Notice of Appeal.

It is important to note that there is no cross appeal or notice to vary in the new rules. Each appeal must reach the threshold for leave to appeal on its own merits.

The application may be decided on the papers filed without an oral hearing.

Case management will now feature heavily in the Supreme Court as well and each appeal will have a directions hearing.  Furthermore, procedural or interlocutory matters can now be heard by the Chief Justice or a judge nominated by her sitting alone.

Comment

The establishment of the Court of Appeal marks the most significant changes to the Courts system since the establishment of the State.  Considerable thought has been given to the new rules governing the Court and it is clear that case management will be a significant feature to ensure an effective and efficient appeals system.