The country is divided into eight circuits for the purposes of the Circuit Court.
The Circuit Court consists of the President of the Court and 37 ordinary judges.
One Circuit Judge is assigned to each circuit, except in the case of the Dublin and Cork Circuits. Ten judges can be assigned to the Dublin Circuit and 3 to the Cork Circuit.
The President of the Circuit Court, who is also an additional Judge of the High Court, has the duty of ensuring an equitable distribution of the work of the Circuit Court amongst the several judges and the prompt despatch of business.
Under the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 provision was made for a maximum of 8 new specialist judges to facilitate the speedy consideration of insolvency applications.
The Circuit Court is a court of local and limited jurisdiction. It is restricted as to which cases it can decide in both civil and criminal matters.
A Circuit Court cannot hear a case that has not been commenced in the correct County.
The case must be brought, heard and decided in the County
Civil cases in the Circuit Court are tried by a judge sitting without a jury.
The Circuit Court is restricted to hearing cases where the damages or compensation sought do not exceed a certain amount.
The Circuit Court has jurisdiction, i.e., it can hear and decide cases:
In criminal matters, the Circuit Court Judge sits with a jury of twelve. A verdict need not be unanimous in a case where there are not fewer than eleven jurors if ten of them agree on a verdict after considering the case for a reasonable time (not less than two hours).
The criminal jurisdiction is exercised by the judge of the Circuit in which
However, the Circuit Judge may transfer a criminal trial from one part of his/her Circuit to another.
On application by the Director of Public Prosecutions or the accused, the Circuit Judge may, if satisfied that it would be manifestly unjust not to do so, transfer the trial from the Circuit Court sitting outside of the Dublin Circuit to the Dublin Circuit Court.
The Constitution specifies that all non-minor offences must, in general, involve a trial with a jury.
All minor criminal cases are heard in the District Court summarily (i.e., without a jury). The Circuit Court has the jurisdiction to hear all non-minor offences, except murder, rape, aggravated sexual assault, treason, piracy and related offences.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.