The IFA Executive Council has urged farm families to come out and vote Yes in the Court of Appeal Referendum, which takes place on Friday, October 4th.
IFA President John Bryan said, “The new Court of Appeal is clearly necessary to improve the administration of justice and save both personal and financial stress for people involved in appeals who are subjected to intolerable delays at present”. He added, “The Government must also press ahead with further reforms to make the Courts system more efficient, make access to the Courts less costly and bring down legal costs generally”.
John Bryan said, “A new Court of Appeal is required to hear most of the appeals currently heard by the Supreme Court, where there is now a backlog of over 660 cases, with delays estimated at from four to six years. The new Court would be positioned between the High Court and the Supreme Court and its job would be to eliminate these delays and ensure appeals are heard within a matter of months. This is essential to get a speedy resolution of disputes, which in turn reduces the personal stress and legal costs on litigants and improves the environment for doing business”.
He added that IFA also supported the second element of the Court of Appeal referendum, which is part of the same vote and would remove the ‘one judgment’ rule of the Supreme Court when the constitutionality of a law is challenged. At present, only one judgment is given in such cases, even if the Supreme Court decision is by a majority. The referendum would allow minority views within the Court to be heard and published. However, the one judgment rule would still apply when the President refers a Bill to the Supreme Court.
While the establishment of a new Court of Appeal would place a small additional burden on taxpayers, John Bryan said “the farming community wants the Government to pursue further reforms of both the Courts system and the legal profession to deliver better value for money and drive down legal costs to both citizens and the State”.
John Bryan called on the Minister for Justice to require much better case management at all levels in the courts, so that cases are processed more quickly, settled earlier whether in or out of court, and costs are saved. “There is huge scope to use case management conferences, to cut down on procedural time-wasting and restrict excessively lengthy written submissions and oral argument. If the US Supreme Court can confine appeals to 30 minutes of oral argument for each side, then surely we can do likewise”.