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Republic of Ireland

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The High Court (Irish: An Ard-Chúirt) of Ireland is a court which deals at first instance with the most serious and important civil and criminal cases, and also acts as a court of appeal for civil cases in the Circuit Court. It also has the power to determine whether or not a law is constitutional, and of judicial review over acts of the government and other public bodies.



The High Court is established by Article 34 of the Constitution of Ireland, which grants it "full original jurisdiction in and power to determine all matters and questions whether of law or fact, civil or criminal", as well as the ability to determine "the validity of any law having regard to the provisions of this Constitution". Judges are appointed by the President. However, as with almost all the President's constitutional powers, these appointments are made under "the advice of the Government". In practice, this means that the judges are nominated by the government and automatically approved by the President.

There can be at most 32 ordinary High Court judges, however the president of the Circuit Court and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court are ex officio judges of the High Court. Cases are normally heard by one judge, but the President of the High Court may order that a particular case be heard by three judges sitting together — a so-called divisional court.

The court normally hears cases in the Four Courts building in Dublin, although it also has regular sittings outside the capital.

Mr Justice Richard Johnson succeeded Mr Justice Joseph Finnegan as President of the High Court in December 2006, and was himself succeeded by Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns in October 2009 [1]. Mella Carroll was the first woman to serve on the court and did so between 1980 and 2005.


Judges of the High Court

(In order of appointment as of appointment by the President of Ireland of the Government's 21 November 2006 nominees) - Judges of the High Court deal with both civil and criminal matters. When the High Court deals with criminal cases it sits as the Central Criminal Court.

  • Nicholas Kearns, President of the High Court
  • Vivian H. Lavan
  • Paul J.P. Carney
  • Declan Budd
  • Mary Laffoy
  • Michael Moriarty
  • Peter Kelly
  • Thomas C. Smyth
  • Kevin C. O'Higgins
  • John Quirke
  • Iarfhlaith O'Neill
  • Roderick Murphy
  • Daniel Herbert
  • Paul Butler
  • Liam McKechnie
  • Henry Abbott
  • Éamon de Valera, Jnr
  • Mary Finlay Geoghegan
  • Michael Peart
  • Barry White
  • Paul Gilligan
  • Sean Ryan
  • Elizabeth Dunne
  • Michael Hanna
  • John McMenamin
  • Frank Clarke
  • Kevin Feeney
  • Brian McGovern
  • Maureen Clark
  • Peter Charleton
  • John Hedigan
  • Bryan MacMahon
  • George Birmingham
  • Mary C. Irvine
  • John A. Edwards
  • Patrick J. McCarthy
  • Garrett Sheehan
  • Daniel O'Keeffe

Master of the High Court

  • Edmund Honohan, SC

Presidents of the High Court

Criminal cases

The High Court is known as the Central Criminal Court (Irish: An Phríomh-Chúirt Choiriúil) when it is hearing a criminal case. The Central Criminal Court has original jurisdiction for the following criminal offences:

All Central Criminal Court cases are heard in front of a jury of twelve. The defendant can be convicted on a majority verdict of ten jurors. Appeals from the Central Criminal Court can be made to the Court of Criminal Appeal, and the sentence can be appealed as well as the verdict.

Civil cases

The High Court is the court of first instance for all civil cases where the plaintiff is claiming more than 38,092.14 (IR£30,000 late currency) in damages, this being the upper limit of the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court. By virtue of its full original jurisdiction under the Constitution, however, theoretically a civil action of any value may commence in the High Court. The Court also has power of judicial review over the acts of the government and other public bodies, including the decisions of all inferior courts, and decisions made by tribunals of inquiry.

Any non-criminal judgment or order of the High Court sitting as a court of first instance may be appealed to the Supreme Court.

See also


External links


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