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.
The Court of Appeal has jurisdiction in civil proceedings:
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 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.
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.
Decisions of the Court of Appeal can only be appealed to the Supreme Court:
You can find further information on the Court of Appeal on the Courts Service website.
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.