The Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2013 (the Act) passed all stages of the Oireachtas on the 18th July 2013 and was signed into law by the President on the 24th July 2013.
The Act provides for increases in the limits of the jurisdictions of both the District and Circuit Courts which have remained unchanged since the coming into force of the Courts Act 1991. Part 3 of the Act, which provides for the increase in jurisdiction limits, has not yet come into operation and is due to be commenced by Ministerial Order. The following changes will then come into effect:
- The limit of the District Court will increase from €6,384 to €15,000,
- The limit of the Circuit Court will increase from €38,092 to €75,000,
- The maximum award for personal injuries actions in the Circuit Court will be restricted to €60,000,
- Where an action commenced in the High Court is remitted or transferred to the Circuit Court, the Circuit Court will have jurisdiction to award damages in excess of €60,000 for personal injury actions and in excess of €75,000 for all other actions claiming unliquidated damages.
The increased monetary jurisdiction of the lower courts should reduce legal costs and make the courts more accessible to litigants as a greater number of actions will be facilitated in the District and Circuit Courts. The measures should also ease the burden on the higher courts with a reduction in the number of cases taken in the High Court and in the number of appeals that have to be dealt with by the Supreme Court. However, there are concerns that the changes may result in higher awards in personal injury actions and that the lower courts infrastructure may not be able to deal with the increased workload.
For further information please contact Terry Heaney, Partner, Defence Litigation Unit.