CCPC welcomes recommendations on Courts modernisation & judicial planning reform
March 10, 2023
For many years, the legal services market has been a priority for both the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) and our predecessor organisation, the Competition Authority. Within this context, we welcome important recommendations recently made by the Judicial Planning Working Group and the OECD in their ‘Modernising Staffing and Court Management Practices in Ireland’ report.
The legal services market is extremely challenging for consumers to navigate, particularly as there is an information asymmetry between the profession and consumers. The ability to compare offerings is limited, especially given the unpredictability around cost, as the likely cost of services is often uncertain at the outset. In their report, the OECD showed that delays and inefficiencies in the court system raises the overall cost of the delivery of legal services in Ireland. The CCPC believes that the reforms signalled in the Judicial Planning Working Group report could reduce the costs of the administration of justice and complement ongoing reforms to provide greater cost transparency to consumers of legal services and to lower the cost of civil litigation.
In 2019, the CCPC addressed the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice in relation to access to justice. We highlighted that there are challenges to the two main channels available to consumers who are seeking redress. These are low engagement levels with the Alternative Dispute Resolution process, and the low financial limit (currently €2,000) for claims that can be brought by consumers through the Small Claims Procedure. We suggested that consideration should be given to increasing the Small Claims value so that consumers can seek their own redress for higher value products and services. We note the observation of the OECD that there appears to be a significant interest in strengthening the small claims processes and significant scope for modernising the procedure. And within this context, we welcome the recommendations of the Judicial Planning Working Group to test better small claims processing options.
The CCPC expects that the commencement of the Competition (Amendment) Act 2022, will likely lead to a greater number of cases in the courts and an increased need for judicial expertise in competition law. As a result, the CCPC believes that consideration should be given as to whether criminal competition law cases should be moved from the Central Criminal Court to the Circuit Criminal Court. In addition, we welcome the recommendation by the Judicial Planning Working Group that judicial training should include “specialism in areas such as family law, childcare and complex litigation – for example, white-collar crime and environmental law”. The recommendation to establish a formal judicial resource-planning model could in time provide a basis for moving criminal competition cases to the Circuit Court.
For more information read the OECD report.
You can also read the report of the Judicial Planning Working Group.Return to News