The Government published the Courts Bill 2013 yesterday 19th March 2013. A full text of the Bill is available on this link.
The purpose of the Courts Bill 2013 is two-fold
- The Bill proposes to relax the “In camera rule” by (whilst retaining the privacy provisions in respect of the operation of family and child care law in our courts) allowing the attendance of bona fide representatives of the Press. The courts will, however, retain the power to exclude representatives of the Press or restrict or prohibit the publication of evidence given in the proceedings in certain circumstances. It is also reported that a strict prohibition will apply on reporting of material likely to identify the parties to the proceedings or any children to whom the proceedings relate.
- The Bill also proposes to change the monetary limits on the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court and District Court in Civil proceedings to €75,000 and €15,000 respectively however in personal injury actions, the revised monetary jurisdiction limit of the Circuit Court will be €60,000. At present the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court is €38,092.14 and the District Court is €6,348.69.
Whilst no indication has been given as to how long it will take for the Bill to be enacted, the proposed changes are welcome. However it is also hoped that extra resources will be made available to assist with the ever growing case loads of the District and Circuit courts which will no doubt expand with the increased jurisdiction leading to further delays in cases being heard.