Justice Minister Alan Shatter has confirmed he is to appoint a small cadre of specialist judges to speed up the insolvency applications that are due to come before the courts next year.
The Government’s personal insolvency legislation is expected to come into force next year and in preparation, and Mr Shatter confirmed his plans to appoint the new judges to the circuit court in a written response to a Dáil question from Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald.
He said: “Rather than incurring additional costs to the exchequer... eligibility for these new judgeships will be initially confined to serving County Registrars with the necessary legal qualifications and practice experience.
“This will have the effect of ensuring that the creation of this new cadre will be largely cost-neutral as, if a serving County Registrar is appointed as a specialist judge, he or she will not be replaced thus creating the necessary extra judicial resources and maximising the contribution of these existing office holders at very little additional cost.”
However, he said a referendum was required to fully resolve delays of up to three years and four months in cases being heard in the Supreme Court. He said the delays can only be dealt with through the establishment of a court of civil appeal.
“The Government is committed to the holding of a Constitutional referendum on Article 34 which is necessary to achieve this and work has commenced in my department in this regard.”
He said “the presidents of the various courts are determined to achieve improvements in waiting times and they are working with the Courts Service to target judicial resources at the areas with longest waiting times”.
He said “in 2011 there were 674 weeks of Circuit Court sittings in venues outside Dublin. This has increased to 767 weeks in 2012 and the President of the Circuit Court plans to increase capacity to 888 weeks during 2013, a 30% increase over 2011”.
“The President of the High Court has introduced initiatives such as reorganising sittings of the High Court outside Dublin and arranging for additional court sittings during court recesses to reduce waiting times.
“In addition, the delegation to court officials of administrative functions previously dealt with by High Court judges has increased judicial availability for trial work.”
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