This country-specific Q&A provides an overview of Litigation in Ireland.
It will cover methods of resolving disputes, details of the process and the proceedings, the court and their jurisdiction, costs and appeals and opinions on future developments.
This Q&A is part of the global guide to Litigation. For a full list of jurisdictional Q&As visit http://www.inhouselawyer.co.uk/practice-areas/litigation-dispute-resolution/
1. What are the main methods of resolving commercial disputes?
Traditional litigation remains the most frequently used method of resolving commercial disputes. In 2004, a division of the High Court known as the Commercial Court (or Commercial List) was established to provide effective, efficient resolution of commercial disputes. Parties who wish to have their case admitted to the Commercial List must, when making an application to do so, demonstrate that it satisfies a number of criteria to include that the dispute is of a 'commercial nature', and that the value of the claim is at least €1 million (subject to certain exceptions).
Although traditional litigation is still most commonly used, parties are increasingly turning to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods of resolving disputes.
The most commonly engaged ADR mechanisms in Ireland are arbitration and mediation. Arbitration in particular is often chosen by parties to commercial agreements as an alternative to litigation, because of the binding nature of the award and the formalised process (which often mirrors court proceedings in terms of steps taken). In that regard, commercial agreements themselves very often include a clause that any disputes arising under the agreement must be referred to arbitration.
2. What are the main procedural rules governing commercial litigation?
Practice and procedure in the Irish Courts is determined by references to the rules of the relevant court (please see (3) below in relation to the jurisdiction of the various courts to hear a claim).
Most commercial disputes arise within the jurisdiction of the High Court and are governed by the Rules of the Superior Courts (RSC). The RSC are amended from time to time by way of Statutory Instrument, and are published on the Irish Courts Service website in their un-consolidated form.
Procedure before the courts is also governed by Practice Directions, which complement the rules of court, and inform parties what the court expects of them with regards to practice and procedure. These practice directions are also published on the Courts Service website.
3. What is the structure and organisation of local courts dealing with commercial claims? What is the final court of appeal?
Claims (commercial or otherwise) with a value of up to €15,000 are dealt with by the District Court, while claims with a value of €15,000 - €75,000 are dealt with by the Circuit Court.
Claims with a value of over €75,000 fall to be dealt with by the High Court. Thereafter, if the proceedings satisfy the criteria for admission to the Commercial Court (as outlined at (1) above), they may be admitted to that List.
Decisions of the High Court / Commercial Court may be appealed, typically to the Court of Appeal. Decisions of the Court of Appeal are in many cases final however a further appeal to the Supreme Court is permitted in certain circumstances (see (17) below also).
4. How long does it typically take from commencing proceedings to get to trial?
The length of time from the date of issue of proceedings to trial varies depending on factors such as the urgency of the case and the extent of pre-trial steps required, for example, discovery. In a typical case, one might expect a trial date to be assigned within 12 - 18 months of admission to the Commercial List.
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Originally published in In-House Lawyer (Published: July 2018)
This article contains a general summary of developments and is not a complete or definitive statement of the law. Specific legal advice should be obtained where appropriate.