Overall caseload remains steady
Big drop in average awards in the High Court while Circuit Court slightly increases
Courts Service investing in new IT systems, but takeup low
By Seán O’Halloran, MDM Solicitors, 18 July 2019
The Courts Service published its annual report for 2018 on 8 July 2019. The detailed document gives a number of insights into the number of cases and average awards being made, while also outlining the key strategic goals for the service.
Number of new cases remains steady
Overall, the number of new proceedings issued was steady compared to 2017. The High Court held constant at over 39,000 actions commenced while the Circuit Court saw a drop in new cases by just under 4,500 cases compared to 2017 (53,705 to 49,253). This decline was offset by a 3,670 caseload increase in the District Court (133,823 to 137,493).
The number of personal injuries cases (including medical negligence) filed in 2018 was 22,049 (down 368 from 2017). The majority of these cases were filed in the Circuit Court (12,193), followed by the High Court (8,889) and District Court (967 cases).
Average personal injuries awards decrease, but averages skewed
The total amount awarded by the High Court in 2018 was €148,935,686. In the Circuit Court, the total amount award was €23,596,553 In the District Court the total amount awarded was €4,536,734. These sums equate to an average award of €7,987 in the District Court, €19,014 in the Circuit Court, and €349,919 in the High Court. It should be noted, however, that the vast majority of High Court awards were less than €200,000, with a relatively small number of medical negligence awards altering the mean.
Compared to 2017, the average award in the High Court was down by over €100,000, while the average Circuit Court award increased by approximately €500.
Courts Service Online
The report also outlines the strategic priorities for the Courts Service, in particular plans to roll-out Courts Service Online (CSOL), its new integrated IT system. CSOL is designed to allow parties to make applications and file documents. Most recently, the system has been rolled out to allow for the filing applications for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court online. However, it has yet to be used by practitioners.