Waiting time for Court hearings in civil cases in Kildare is the highest in the Country.
The Court Services Annual Report for 2010 published earlier this year confirms that waiting time in County Kildare for circuit court civil cases is presently 36 months. County Wexford is the next highest with an average waiting time of 26 to 30 months. In some counties the delay is only four months. “The reality is that the time from the commencement of the proceedings to the trial of the action is often far longer” confirms solicitor Mark Stafford. “The report measures the time taken for the hearing of the case from the date of the service of the notice of trial, which is a legal document that is served by one of the parties as one of the final steps taken before the hearing and it can often take a couple of months up to a year before the notice of trial is served.”. So for disputes involving claims in excess of €6,348 in matters such as breach of contract, debt collection, negligence, land disputes amongst others parties could be looking at a period of 4 years before the court hearing.
Court Services, which is responsible for the administration of the courts system have introduced pilot schemes in Naas, Monaghan and Ennis which will streamline services and create efficiencies. A number of measures have been introduced by the management and staff in the Naas office to improve the service for users and practitioners in the District and Circuit Courts. “The local office are to be congratulated on their efforts to improve the services which will serve as a model for the rest of the Country” says local Fine Gael TD Martin Heydon “however this alone may not be sufficient to tackle the backlog that has arisen possibly due to the increase in population in the region and greater judicial resources will be required. I have raised the issue with Minister for Justice Alan Shatter who has confirmed to me that he is conscious of the delays and is in discussion with the Chief Justice regarding various initiatives to reduce the delays.”
One proposal put forward by Martin Heydon TD and Mark Stafford is the possibility of allocating one of the Judges presently seconded to the Planning Tribunal to the Eastern Circuit to deal with civil and family law matters as soon as the Tribunal completes its work.