The Courts Bill 2013, once enacted and commenced, will increase the monetary jurisdiction of the District and Circuit Courts for the first time since 1991.

The Bill proposes to inflate the monetary jurisdiction of the Circuit Court from its current limit of €38,092.14 to €75,000. However, the Bill makes an exception in cases involving personal injuries, which includes medical negligence claims. In such cases, the monetary jurisdiction of the Circuit Court will be limited to €60,000.

The primary objective of this initiative is the reduction of litigation costs for all parties. For example, it is unusual for senior counsel to appear before the Circuit Court, although this may now become more common-place at the upper limits of the Court’s jurisdiction. Furthermore, stamp duty and other outlay are significantly lower in the Circuit Court. The Circuit Court also moves at a faster pace than the High Court, which should see cases being resolved earlier, which will in itself also serve to reduce legal costs.

The Bill, when enacted, will ensure that a greater proportion of cases are resolved outside of the High Court. This, in turn, should improve access to justice in the High Court. Any reduction in the number of cases before the High Court will ultimately free up more Judges to hear cases and reduce the waiting times in the High Court lists.