In an interview with the Irish Independent last Friday, 17th January, Angela Denning, CEO of the Courts Services, discusses new reforms that will make court-use quicker, cheaper and easier.
The changes will involve minimising attendance at physical hearings to when it is absolutely necessary and will seek to resolve cases before a formal hearing.
‘Virtual courtrooms’ are to be introduced as part of case-progression hearings. Guilty pleas will be accepted online for less serious non-custodial matters such as road traffic, TV licence and litter offences. Road traffic offences account for 60% of District Court business and Angela Denning says she wants to free up valuable court time by reducing ‘churn-work’.
In order to satisfy the constitutional requirement that justice be done in public, proceedings can be streamed online if necessary.
The Private Residential Tenancies Board has already introduced online video hearings to resolve landlord/tenant disputes, reducing travel time, wear and tear, and time off work.
Angela Denning says that she is determined to make court use easier and less intimidating for ordinary people, and to steer users towards alternative-dispute-resolution processes, where suitable.