Government urged to progress Hammond Lane family courts complex

Government urged to progress Hammond Lane family courts complex

Pictured: The Hammond Lane site where the new family courts complex will be built (Credit: Keith Walsh)

A leading family lawyer has urged the government to begin work on the proposed new Hammond Lane family courts complex as the site remains untouched more than a year on from the project’s approval.

The long-promised Hammond Lane complex is intended to replace the existing facilities for family law at Dolphin House, Chancery Street, Phoenix House and in the Four Courts.

The site was first earmarked for the development in 2014, and the project was expected to pick up pace after approval in principle by the Department of Justice in June 2022. The design plans for the building were approved in principle in November 2022.

However, Keith Walsh, a prominent family law solicitor in Dublin, told Irish Legal News of his disappointment that construction work has not yet begun.

“Families seeking justice are having to appear in Victorian courthouses in the Bridewell, unsuitably small court buildings and overcrowded public spaces with a lack of basic consultation facilities such as Dolphin House,” he said.

“Family law remains the poor relation and while we have a cathedral of law devoted to the criminal justice system in Parkgate Street, the family justice system of courts in Dublin remains fragmented and housed in accommodation that would have been unsuitable in the 20th century, never mind the 21st century.

“The real losers are those using the system — the families, the court officials, the judges, the experts and the lawyers.”

Mr Walsh added: “It is high time that the government authorise work to begin on the family court complex.

“Pressure continues to build on the family law system due to increases in family breakdown, domestic violence, applications to take children into care. The family law system is at boiling point in Dublin and the planned new family court is needed in order just to keep a lid on the problem.

“The real concern is that by the time it is finally started and completed that the demand for family law will have outstripped its capacity.”

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