Court of Appeal

Introduction

The Court of Appeal was established on 28 October 2014 under the Court of Appeal Act 2014. Its main function is to hear appeals from the High Court and the Circuit Court. It took over the role of the Court of Criminal Appeal and the Courts-Martial Appeal Court which were abolished. The only appeals that go to the Supreme Court are those which raise issues of major public importance or where the interests of justice require such an appeal.

The Court of Appeal has a President and up to 9 judges. The Chief Justice and the President of the High Court are additional judges. The President of the Appeal Court is an additional judge of the Supreme Court and of the High Court.

The President distributes and allocates the work of the Court of Appeal. Matters coming before it are normally heard and determined by 3 judges. However, some interlocutory and procedural applications may be heard by the President or another nominated judge alone. An interlocutory application is an application for a temporary decision to deal with issues that will be finally decided when the case is fully heard. Procedural applications could include, for example, an application for legal aid.

The Court of Appeal is not a court of local or limited jurisdiction.

Civil matters

The Court of Appeal has jurisdiction in civil proceedings:

  • It can hear appeals from decisions of the High Court except for those cases where the Supreme Court has permitted an appeal to it
  • It may give a ruling on a question of law submitted to it by the Circuit Court
  • It can hear appeals from cases heard in the High Court about whether or not a law is constitutional

Criminal matters

The Court of Appeal hears appeals against convictions or sentences given by the Circuit Criminal Court, the Central Criminal Court (High Court) and the Special Criminal Court.

The Director of Public Prosecutions can appeal to the Court of Appeal:

  • The leniency of a sentence
  • A decision not to order a retrial

The Director of Public Prosecutions can also appeal a point of law from a trial on indictment to the Court of Appeal. This does not mean that the Court may overturn the verdict of "not guilty". It simply clarifies the law for future cases.

Although criminal cases are heard and determined by 3 judges, the Court of Appeal gives one judgment unless there is a constitutional issue involved. The existence of a dissenting opinion is not made public.

Court-martial matters

Courts-Martial are military courts. They deal with offences against military law by members of the Defence Forces. The Court of Appeal hears appeals from people who had been convicted by a Court-Martial.

Information on the court-martial system is available at military.ie.

Appealing Court of Appeal decisions

Decisions of the Court of Appeal can only be appealed to the Supreme Court:

  • If the decision involves a matter of general public importance, or
  • If, in the interests of justice, it is necessary that there be an appeal

Further information

You can find further information on the Court of Appeal on the Courts Service website.

Page edited: 23 December 2015