Irish Law

1. Outline the sources of Irish Law * History sources of law * Common Law * Equity Example of the many maxims: i. Those who seek equity must do equity. ii. Equity looks the intent rather than the form. iii. Those who come to equity must come with clean hands. iv. Equality is equity. * Legal sources of Law: There are five legal sources: a. Legislation (Statute Law) b. Subordinate Legislation c. The Irish Constitution 1937 (Bunreacht na hÉireann) d. European Union Law e. Judicial Precedent (Interpretation of Statutes)

2. Give a brief explanation on each source. * History sources of Law It is a generally regarded as common law and equity.

* Common Law Common law (also known as case law or precedent) is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action.

* Equity Generally, the court began to be guided by its previous decisions and formulated a number of general principles, known as the 'Maxims of Equity', upon which it would proceed. These are still applied today when equitable relief is claimed. * Example of the many maxims:

a. Those who seek equity must do equity. Persons who seek equitable relief must be prepare to act fairly towards their opponents as a condition of obtaining relief. b. Equity looks the intent rather than the form. Although a person may pretend that they are doing something in the correct form, equity will look to see what they really trying to achieve. c. Those who come to equity must come with clean hands.

To be fairly treated, the plaintiff must have acted properly in past dealings with the defendant. d. Equality is equity. What is available to one person must be available to another. This reflects the effort made by the law to play fair and redress the balance.

* Legal sources of Law It is the means by which the law is currently brought into existence. There are five legal sources: * Legislation (Statute Law) Legislation is the laying down of legal rules by an institution which is recognized as having the right to make law for the community. Such laws are known as statutes. Case: Burke V. Aer Lingus (1997)

* Subordinate Legislation Subordinate, or ‘delegated’, legislation arises from laws laid down by a body or a person to whom the Oireachtas. I.e. The superior legislature, has delegated power to make such laws. The Oireachtas has delegated power to government ministers, local authorities and bodies to legislate for specified purposes only. * The Irish Constitution 1937 (Bunreacht na hÉireann)

The Constitution, which came into effect on 29 December 1937, is the basis of our law. The law of the Constitution: a) Regulates the structure and function of the principal organs of government. b) Regulates the relationship of these organs to each other and to do the citizen. Case: Murphy V. Attorney General (1980)

* European Union Law Since accession of Ireland to the European Economic Community in January 1973, the Constitution has no longer been supreme in all respects. A constitutional amendment was necessary to allow laws of the Community made externally, and not by organs established under the Constitution, to be part of our domestic law. Case: Kenny V. Trinity College and Dublin City Council (2007) * Judicial Precedent (Interpretation of Statutes)

Common law and equity have been developed through the centuries by judges in giving their decisions in the courts. Judge-made law involved the application of customary law to new situations, thereby maintaining consistency. As the law because more sophisticated, the decisions of the judges were recorded and reports were made of law cases. It became possible to follow previous decisions of judges and this brought about a level of certainty and progressive development in judge-made law. The reform introduced by the Judicature Acts 1873-75 led to the modern doctrine of precedent which depends for its operation on the fact that all courts stand in a definite relationship to one another.

3. Explain the main differences between civil and criminal law. * Civil Law Civil law exists to deal with civil, or private, wrongs. The object of civil law is the resolution of disputes over the rights and obligations of individuals dealing with each other. The State has no role in such disputes. It is up to injured parties to commence a civil action to seek compensation for a loss which they have suffered. Case: Noonan V. Murphy (1987)

* Criminal Law Criminal law exists to deal with criminal, or public, wrongs. It is a set of standards imposed by a society on its individuals, breaches of which incur sanctions to punish the offender. * The main differences between civil and criminal law

The distinction between a civil and a criminal wrong is not found in the nature of the act or event itself, but in the legal consequences of it. In some cases, therefore, the facts will indicate both a civil action and a criminal offence. In such cases, the victim with have to start a civil action separate from any prosecution brought by the State. The two sorts of proceedings are usually easily identified, however, since the procedures and terminology are different.

4. Briefly explain the structure of the Irish Court system. The courts conduct an investigation into the liability or non-liability of a defendant in a civil litigation, or a fair trial into the guilt or innocence of the accused in a criminal case. The courts depend on the parties in dispute to do the bulk of the work. This saves the courts from having to make a full investigation into the facts in dispute and then drawing the appropriate conclusions. In civil cases, the plaintiff makes a precise claim or claims against the defendant and the latter defends the action.

The plaintiff must prove the action on the balance of probabilities. This is what is known as an adversary procedure – the courts are only concerned with ruling on the relevant issues brought to them for settlement and decision. Some courts deal only with civil cases and others only with criminal cases. Most, however, can deal with both. The jurisdiction of the courts can depend upon where the defendant lives, the type of legal problem involved, the seriousness of the offence and the amount of the claim or nature of the remedy sought.

The present structure of the Irish courts was first established by the Courts of Justice Act 1924. It now derives its authority from Article 34 of the Constitution, which states that: 'Justice shall be administered in courts established by law by judges appointed in the manner provided by this Constitution, and save in such special and limited cases as may be prescribed by law, shall be administered in public.

'The structure of courts that exists today was formally established by the Courts (establishment and Constitution) Act 1961. No longer administered by the Department of Justice, the entire courts' system is now the responsibility of the Courts Service (an tSeirbhis Chuirteanna), an independent corporate organisation with its headquarters at Phoenix House, Smithfield, Dublin 7. The court structure is organized on a hierarchical basis. At the bottom is the District Court, which has the narrowest jurisdiction. At the top is the Supreme Court, which is the final court of appeal. In the middle are the Circuit Court, the High Court and the Court of Criminal Appeal.

5. Outline the functions of the District and Circuit Court. The District Court * The District Court in Ireland was established in 1924. * This is the lowest court within our legal system and it is a unified court. * In addition to the President, shall not be more than sixty of judges * The country is divided into twenty-three districts to each of which one judge is permanently assigned, except in the case of the Dublin Metropolitan District and Cork, where the volume of cases requires the permanently assignment of a number of judges. * Generally the venue at which a case is heard depends on where an offence was committed, or where the defendant was arrested or resides or carries out their business. * Each District Justice sits alone.

* The Court handles civil claims of up to €6,350 * It can grant dance hall and liquor licenses, and order ejectment for non-payment of rent.

The Circuit Court * This is a unified court which, in accordance with Courts and Court Officers (Amendment) Act 2007 consists of a President and not more than thirty-seven ordinary judges. * The country is divided into eight circuits.

* One Circuit judge is permanently assigned to each circuit, except under the provisions of the Courts and Court Officers Act 1995 whereby ten judges can be assigned to Dublin and three to Cork. * Civil cases in the Circuit Court are tried by a judge sitting without a jury. * The civil jurisdiction is limited to €38,092, unless all parties to an action consent, in which case jurisdiction is unlimited.