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Report No. 188

Ireland:

In Ireland, the Committee on Court Practice and Procedure, 2002 appointed by the Government, in its 27th Interim Report, considered the question of a commercial court at Dublin. (http://www.courts.ie/press.nsf).

The High Court of Ireland is the jurisdiction within which most important commercial cases proceed in Ireland. Such cases appear in a variety of court lists of that jurisdiction. Other jurisdictions also hear commercial cases.

The Committee observed that there was merit in establishing a more specialized approach to commercial cases. Under the directive of the President of the relevant jurisdiction, a division of that jurisdiction could be developed into a de facto commercial court. It would not involve the development of a stand-alone court. Rather, as is in fact done in certain areas already, judges with a particular experience may specialize in that area 44of the jurisdiction. The High Court is the location for the larger and more important cases. Effectively, the High Court would include the commercial court. Specialisation would facilitate the public, the State, the major institutions, Irish companies, and multinational corporations. The convenience of the public and the efficient disposal of court cases would be more effectively secured by such a development.

The type of cases heard by the commercial court may expand. It may be wise to commence with a restricted list of cases, such as those relating to intellectual property, and/or applications under the Arbitration (International Commercial) Act, 1998. Consideration may be given to including applications under the Company Law Enforcement Act, 2001. However, if a pilot project was as extensive as to include a considerable volume of cases, the number of Judges nominated by the President of the High Court to such project, should reflect the estimated number and complexity of cases. As the project proceeds, it may be appropriate to review the classes of cases included. This would be for the President of the High Court to determine, or his nominee judges, with the assistance of the Courts Service, after the approximate consultation.

With the expansion of the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court, it may be that a specialized division of that Court might also be considered in the High Court.

The Committee stated that in order to facilitate a 'Pilot Project Commercial Court', it would be appropriate if a separate office was established by the Court Service to manage the administration of the 45proposed Pilot Commercial Court. This would enable less cases to proceed with speed in accordance with any new directions, rules, or electronic practice and procedures. This could be done by establishing the 'Commercial Court Service'.

In Ireland, financial and other benefits could accrue if a commercial court were established. Notwithstanding the past buoyancy of the Irish economy, the current realities of international trading, both for established domestic companies and enterprises, and the inward investment in the States demand an efficient and relevant legal system to enable the speedy resolution of commercial dispute procedures and/or arbitration.

The benefits of having a commercial court, the Committee stated, are substantial. They include, but are not limited to

(1) the return to the State of new business attracted by the advantages of a jurisdiction with a functioning commercial court which offers a court system that accommodates modern business commercial needs.

(2) the return to the State in existing businesses which benefit in the availability of the services of a commercial court.

(3) the savings to business which will flow from using modern communication techniques in e-commerce dispute resolution before the Court.

(4) maintaining the State's desire to be a global leader and player in ecommerce through the provision of e-court services. The attraction to other existing State initiatives that will benefit from the existence of a commercial court are indeed obvious.

The Committee observed that the relevant factors for a Pilot Commercial Court are:

(a) The Pilot Commercial Court would require support from the relevant institutions.

(b) The planning of courts in the four Court complexes should include planning to enable the development of a commercial court with e-court infrastructure.

(c) Practice directions may be relevant.

(d) Rules relating to a e-government legislation may be made in conjunction with the Department of Enterprise.

(e) The President of the High Court may consider requesting some Judges to visit similar courts in other jurisdictions, such as Scotland and England.

(f) The Courts Service may identify and train civil servants of the State in the Court Service to participate in such a project.

(g) Appropriate resources should be made available and planned for such a project.

Recommendations (1) The Committee recommends continuing support and development of e-Courts in Ireland.

(2) The Committee recommends a Pilot Project Commercial Court be developed in Dublin as a matter of urgency.

(3) The management of such project may be under the direction of the President of the High Court and the Courts Service.

(4) Matters which might be usefully considered in such a project include:

(i) The designation of specific judge to the Court by the President of the High Court and the availability of relevant judicial studies for the Judges.

(ii) The establishment of a separate office by the Courts Service to manage the administration of the Pilot Project Commercial Court and all pleadings and proceedings therein. The training of the nominated civil servant of the State.

(iii) The consideration at a later stage of implementing as part of the project, a Pilot e-court within the commercial court. This would require the establishment of an e-court room and the training of all relevant personnel and may be part of the Court's strategy to e-courts.

(iv) The consideration of altering, by legislation, rule or practice direction, the pleadings or proceedings in the pilot commercial court.

(v) The development of links to arbitration centers and the consideration of any necessary legislative or rule change. The consideration of the establishment of an arbitration centre to service the Commercial Court.

(vi) The taking of any necessary steps to facilitate case of access from Arbitration centers to the Commercial Court.



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