herald

Friday 19 July 2019

50 applications a day in domestic violence protection order surge

Chief Justice Frank Clarke said the courts needed to maintain its reputation for competency
Chief Justice Frank Clarke said the courts needed to maintain its reputation for competency

More than 50 applications for domestic violence protections were made every day last year.

The courts dealt with a total of 18,672 applications, a rise of 16pc compared with 2017.

According to the Courts Service annual report, the number of emergency barring orders jumped by 38pc to 1,270, while there was also a 28pc increase in the number of longer-term barring orders sought.

The report also shows there has been a 10.5pc increase in child supervision and care order applications over 2017.

This has led to an increase of a third over the past two years.

Prison

Meanwhile, there has been a 17pc increase in more serious theft and robbery charges, while there has also been a jump in drugs-related offences, from 23,216 to 26,563.

According to the report, 122 individuals convicted of rape were sentenced to more than 10 years in prison, 148 people received a five to 10-year sentence, while 12 rapists were jailed for two to five years.

There was no increase in the number of new personal injury cases before the courts last year.

The numbers remained at 8,900 new cases.

Awards made in medical negligence cases in the High Court, however, were down from €99m in 2017 to €91.4m last year.

The average award per case fell from €1.9m to €1.03m - a drop of more than 47pc.

In personal injury cases, there was a drop of almost 19pc in the total amounts awarded and a 23pc drop in the average amount awarded in each case, down from €457,854 to €351,263. The number of new possession cases halved in a year, from 3,356 cases in 2017 to 1,607 last year.

The total has dropped by 82pc over five years.

There has also been a 20pc drop in possession orders made and a 16pc fall in bankruptcy applications - down to 382.

The report also shows that the number of cases to seek debt recovery dropped by 12.5pc to 23,318 while personal insolvency applications decreased by 62pc to 909, from 2,385 in 2017.

The Courts Service said it is putting "resources and emphasis" on its frontline digital presence.

Chief Justice Frank Clarke said that "sorely needed" online and digital services are being planned.

"Hopefully it will lead to a significant improvement in the way in which we all work and deliver services to the community," he said.

Mr Clarke highlighted the initiatives to help establish a stronger online presence for the Courts Service.

"The allocation of additional and vital resources in recent years has enabled the Courts Service to advance many projects which have been under consideration for a long time," he added.

"Much effort was concentrated during 2018 on identifying and planning for those changes which we have all known for some time are sorely needed.

Efficiency

"Projects including electronic filing of documents, online access to court registers, and systems to enable online payment will hopefully lead to a significant improvement in the way in which we all work and deliver services to the community.

"In a changing world, we must ensure that the courts of Ireland continue to maintain our reputation for competency and efficiency as we deal with over 400,000 criminal and 200,000 civil matters annually."

The report also shows that the High Court dealt with and finalised 494 asylum cases in 2018, an increase of 75pc from the previous year.

There was also an increase by 53pc in European Arrest Warrants resolved in 2018.

In total, 600,000 cases were filed in courts last year, 400,000 of which were criminal offences.

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