Ken Murphy, Director General of the Law Society of Ireland, used an appearance on RTE’s Claire Byrne Live on Monday night to call on the Irish Government to tear up the Road Traffic Acts and start again, during a segment that also highlighted the current state of the District Courts system – a system that is not coping with current levels of demand and is eroding public confidence in the justice system.
“There is consensus within the legal profession that Road Traffic legislation is needlessly complex and confusing, as they were described by the late Supreme Court judge, Justice Adrian Hardiman. There are 22 different Acts on the books that deal with road traffic laws, with hundreds of other tangentially-related pieces of legislation that require consideration when judges are adjudicating on road law violations,” said Mr Murphy.
“David Staunton, the barrister and author of the book “Drunken Driving”, has argued that we need to tear up the current system and start again. That is a conclusion that our profession would support.”
“Such needless complexity in legislation undermines public confidence in the justice system. Too often we read about meritless technicalities being the basis for dismissal of very serious cases. Such loopholes need to be closed off in the public interest.”
Mr Murphy (pictured) added: “We are calling on Government to prioritise a new Road Transport Act which would allow for the prosecution of road traffic crimes, such as drunken driving, far more effectively, and with an aim of creating a more efficient and timely system.”
“While we welcome the Minister for Justice and Equality’s assurances in the Dáil this week regarding a review of these issues, we need more than quick fixes. The Law Society stands ready to support the Government in a fundamental redesign of Road Traffic legislation. Many of our 10,000 members have regular, first-hand experience of using the District Court system, so can offer expertise and support for improvements.”