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Supreme Court of Ireland

Introduction

Article 34 of Bunreacht na hEireann (the Irish Constitution) sets down that the courts system in Ireland will include a Court of Final Appeal. This Court of Final Appeal is known in Ireland as the 'Supreme Court'. The Supreme Court consists of the Chief Justice and 9 ordinary judges. The President of the Court of Appeal and the President of the High Court are additional judges of the Supreme Court. This court is located in Dublin.

Appeals are heard and determined by five judges unless the Chief Justice directs that any appeal or other matter (apart from matters relating to the Constitution) should be heard and determined by three judges.

Jurisdiction

The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is as follows:

  • It hears appeals from the Court of Appeal if the Supreme Court is satisfied that:
    - the decision involves a matter of general public importance or
    - in the interests of justice it is necessary that there be an appeal to the Supreme Court
  • It hears direct appeals from the High Court if the Supreme Court is satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances warranting a direct appeal to it. The Supreme Court must be satisfied that:
    - the decision involves a matter of general public importance and/or
    - it is in the interests of justice
  • It has the power to decide if a question of the permanent incapacity of the President arises.
  • It has the power to decide whether a Bill that has been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas and presented to the President of Ireland for his/her signature before being enacted into law is repugnant to the Constitution. This happens when the matter is referred to the Supreme Court by the President.

In a case where a proposed Bill has been referred to the Supreme Court it is heard before seven judges. A barrister represents the Office of the Attorney General, arguing the Bill is constitutional and should remain as it is. The Court appoints another barrister to set out the reasons why the Bill is unconstitutional and should not be enacted.

In cases examining whether or not a Bill is constitutional, the Supreme Court makes one decision and this decision is final. If the Court finds the Bill is contrary or repugnant to the Constitution, it cannot be enacted into law in its present form.

Further information

Further information on the Supreme Court is available at supremecourt.ie.

Page edited: 22 January 2015

Language

Gaeilge

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