“Despite a new Court of Appeal the judicial backlog is not being reduced,” Mattie McGrath
Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, to address ongoing concerns around the inability of the Court of Appeal to address its persistently high backlog of civil and criminal cases. Deputy McGrath was speaking after an analysis of the Court Service’s Annual Report for 2016 by Seth Barrett Tilman, Lecturer in Law at Maynooth University Department of Law, found that without significant reform the Court of Appeal will be incapable of reducing its judicial backlog:
“This analysis by Seth Barrett Tilman is a forensic deconstruction of the spin that is being pedalled regarding the impact the ‘new’ Court of Appeal is allegedly having on addressing the current backlog of cases.
At the time the idea of the new Court was being sold to the Irish people, it was touted as a kind of panacea for the massive delays that were afflicting our judicial system.
Some of us tried to highlight the fact that all this would do, in the absence of more fundamental reform, was to create the illusion of progress.
That position has now been vindicated.
Seth Barrett Tilman has shown that in the course of the Court of Appeal’s second complete calendar year, with millions spent, the number of pending cases started at 1,814, and by the end of the year the number of pending cases increased to 1,821. In other words, there was no net reduction in the number of cases in the backlog.
In point of fact he has also highlighted that there was a 19% decrease in the number of cases disposed of between 2015 and 2016.
All of these issues raise profound challenges for the operation of this Court and public value for money.
They must be addressed and scrutinised without the kind of delays that may arising from an undue sense of deference toward judges.
If they are not getting through the backlog then questions need to be asked about why that is happening year after year even with additional Court facilities at their disposal.
The reasonable conclusion is that more fundamental reform is needed instead of creating another Court with the exact same procedural blocks as has happened in this case,” concluded Deputy McGrath.