Law Society: Investment in courts critical to post-Brexit success

Ken Murphy
Ken Murphy

Investment in the Courts Service will be critical to making Ireland a centre for international dispute resolution after Brexit, the Law Society of Ireland has warned.

Ken Murphy, director general of the Law Society, said Ireland could miss out on jobs and other economic benefits if the State does not keep pace with competing jurisdictions.

Speaking today, Mr Murphy said: “While recent improvements in the Courts Service have been a welcome move, these are against the backdrop of disproportionate budget cuts during the recession and major courts-related initiatives being made in countries like the Netherlands, France and Germany in response to Brexit.

“It is already clear that some legal work – particularly litigation and Commercial Court cases – that would previously have been undertaken in the UK, is now seeking EU bases. As the principal common law jurisdiction left in the EU post-Brexit, Ireland is well placed to benefit from this. However, based on our competitor jurisdictions recent upgrades, we must invest in order to compete for this work.”

The wider Irish legal sector currently generates an estimated €2.3 billion annually in revenue, and contributes €1.7 billion to the Irish economy, employing in excess of 18,000 people.

In the Law Society’s recent response to the Department for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation’s Action Plan for Jobs 2018, the Society called on Government to adopt a strategic approach to court resourcing and to place the development of the legal and judicial regime at the core of its response to Brexit.

It also set out four key areas that the Irish Government should focus on to ensure Ireland is better positioned to compete for future business:

  1. increase the number of specialist judges, appoint additional registrars to create greater capacity, reduce delays and increase efficiencies;
  2. increase the use of technology to improve timeliness and efficiency of legal administration;
  3. prioritise the promotion of alternative dispute resolution options to free up capacity in the court system;
  4. and, as part of the current review of civil court rules, ensure the administrative burden on businesses and individuals is minimised.

Mr Murphy said: “We were encouraged to hear Chief Justice Frank Clarke’s prioritisation of resourcing and investment in technology in his New Legal Year Statement. With the Budget looming, we call on the Government to invest in those services and processes which can ‘future proof’ the Courts system for those businesses and people based in Ireland, and to attract international litigation.

“Strong governance and stable well-functioning institutions underpin the world’s most successful economies and a modern, efficient and effective Courts Service can contribute to this during these uncertain economic times.”

The Society also identified priority areas for Government during Brexit negotiations and several large-scale initiatives that could reduce administrative burdens on the State and improve public services.