Publication of Courts Bill 2013

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr Alan Shatter T.D.,  yesterday announced the publication of the Courts Bill 2013.

The Bill has two purposes, the first of which is to modify the in camera rule which prevents members of the public, including the news media, from being present in court when family law and child care proceedings are being heard. This proposal is in furtherance of the Programme for Government commitment to reform and modernise aspects of family law. The second purpose of the Bill is to increase the monetary jurisdiction limits of the Circuit and District Courts in civil proceedings.

The Bill aims to provide for a careful balancing of the need for privacy for persons involved in family law and child care proceedings with the need to ensure access to important information on the operation of family and child care law in our courts. The Bill proposes to retain the privacy provisions in respect of such court proceedings while allowing the attendance of bona fide representatives of the Press. The courts will, however, retain the power to exclude representatives of the Press or restrict or prohibit the publication of evidence given in the proceedings in certain circumstances. In addition, a strict prohibition will apply on reporting of material likely to identify the parties to the proceedings or any children to whom the proceedings relate.

As regards the jurisdiction limits of the courts, the Bill proposes to change the monetary limits on the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court and District Court in civil proceedings to €75,000 and €15,000 respectively. However, in personal injury actions, the revised monetary jurisdiction limit of the Circuit Court will be €60,000.