Chief Justice Susan Denham recently welcomed the publication of the Courts Service Annual Report 2012, which included a statistical overview of the work of the courts in 2012. Reflecting on the impact of the Courts Service, the Chief Justice noted that “the courts do not operate in a vacuum, but rather their work can be seen as a reflection of the prevailing climate in our society”. With this sentiment in mind, the following statistics from the Report are noteworthy:
- The Supreme Court which has been in the news lately as a result of its significant backlog, had to deal with 21% more appeals in 2012 than in 2011 but also managed to dispose of more appeals, hear more motions and issue more written judgments in 2012. There was also a 20% increase in appeals from decisions of the Commercial Court. The waiting time for appeals in the Supreme Court increased in 2012 and is now 4 years. Priority cases had an average waiting time of 9 months.
- D&O insurers may be interested to note that there was a 50% increase in restriction orders against directors and a staggering 350% increase in disqualification orders made against directors by the High Court. Appeals to the Supreme Court of Companies Acts cases rose by 138%.
- Meanwhile the workload of the Commercial Court decreased in 2012 (13% decrease in cases admitted to the List) and it managed to reduce the average period from start to finish for disposal of its cases to 20 weeks. Over 38% of cases admitted to the Commercial List related to summary debt claims. On average there was an immediate date available for the hearing of a motion seeking entry to the commercial list and no waiting time for the allocation of a trial date.
- There was also a small decrease in personal injury actions heard before the High Court (7%). The total sum of €94,554,780 was awarded by the High Court in damages for personal injuries claims in 2012, the smallest award was €5,000 while the largest was €11,500,000. An additional €17,005,856 was awarded by the Circuit Court for personal injury actions.
- A total of 232 orders were made for matters relating to the Solicitors’ Acts, an 8% increase on 2011.