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Irish Court of Appeal

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Irish Court of Appeal

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This database contains decisions of the Irish Court of Appeal. The Courts Service emphasises that these are not the authoritative versions (which continue to be the hard copies of the judgments).

The Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal, established on 28th October 2014 ('the establishment day'), occupies an appellate jurisdictional tier between the High Court and the Supreme Court.

Composition of the court

The Court of Appeal is composed of a President and nine ordinary judges.The Chief Justice and the President of the High Court are ex officio judges of the Court of Appeal.

The Court may sit in divisions of three judges. Some interlocutory and procedural applications may be heard by the President alone or by another judge nominated by the President.

Jurisdiction of the court

As with the other Superior Courts, some of the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal is conferred by the Constitution and some by legislation.

Appeals in civil proceedings

The Court has jurisdiction to hear appeals in civil proceedings from the High Court which prior to the Thirty-third Amendment of the Constitution would have been heard by the Supreme Court. Exceptions are those cases in which the Supreme Court has permitted an appeal to it on being satisfied that the appeal meets the threshold set out in Article 34.5.4° of the Constitution (a 'Leap Frog' appeal).

The Court can hear appeals from cases heard in the High Court about whether or not a law is constitutional. The Constitution provides that no laws may be passed restricting the Court of Appeal's jurisdiction to do this.

Appeals in criminal proceedings

Under the Court of Appeal Act 2014, the Court of Appeal was given the appellate jurisdiction previously exercised by the Court of Criminal Appeal.

Appeals from persons, convicted on indictment in the Circuit Court or Central Criminal Court, who obtain a certificate from the trial judge that the case is a fit one for appeal now lie to the Court of Appeal. Where this certificate is refused, the Court of Appeal itself, on appeal from this refusal, can grant leave to appeal. In addition, the Director of Public Prosecutions may appeal to the Court of Appeal on grounds of alleged undue leniency of sentence under the Criminal Justice Act 1993, section 2. In the case of an alleged miscarriage of justice, an appeal can be lodged under section 2 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1993.

The Court of Appeal was also given jurisdiction to hear appeals by the Director of Public Prosecutions on a question of law arising out of criminal trials which resulted in an acquittal. The decision of the Court of Appeal does not affect the acquittal verdict in such cases.

Appeals by the Director of Public Prosecutions against an acquittal or against a decision not to order a retrial also lie to the Court of Appeal.

Courts-Martial appeals

Under the Court of Appeal Act 2014, the Court of Appeal was given the appellate jurisdiction previously exercised by the Courts-Martial Appeal Court. This means that appeals from people who have been convicted by a court-martial now lie to the Court of Appeal.

The appeal is determined on a record of the proceedings at the court-martial with power to hear new or additional evidence or to refer any matter for report to the president or the judge advocate of the court-martial. If the appeal is against the finding and the sentence, the court may affirm or reverse the finding in whole or in part, or order a new trial or vary the sentence. If the appeal is limited to either finding or sentence, the court is confined to dealing with the matter which is the subject of the appeal. The court also has power to review a finding or sentence (which was the subject of a previous appeal) where new evidence shows that there has beena miscarriage of justice.

The decision of the Court of Appeal is final unless the Supreme Court permits an appeal under Article 34.5.3 of the Constitution.

Cases stated

Questions of law which could previously be referred by the Circuit Court to the Supreme Court for determination (a 'case stated') are now determinable by the Court of Appeal.

Appeals transferred from Supreme Court to Court of Appeal

Following the establishment of the Court of Appeal specified appeals pending in the Supreme Court which had been initiated before the establishment day and had not been fully or partly heard by that court were directed by the Chief Justice to be heard and determined by the Court of Appeal.

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