A new Court of Appeal has been established in Ireland. This occupies a new appellate tier between the High Court and the Supreme Court. Prior to this Court being established, appeals from the High Court were heard in the Supreme Court. This means that the Supreme Court had to deal with both Court cases with a constitutional element together with procedural appeals from the High Court.
Now the Supreme Court will deal only with cases that are appealed from a decision of the Court of Appeal if the Supreme Court is satisfied that the decision involved a matter of general public importance or it is in the interest of justice. The Supreme Court will deal with an appeal from a decision of the High Court if the Supreme Court is satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances warranting a direct appeal to it and a pre-condition of this is that it must involve a matter of general public importance and/ or be in the interest of justice. The Court of Appeal now will deal with appeals from the High Court which previously would have gone to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court was getting increasingly bogged down in somewhat procedural appeals from the High Court and this distracted it from dealing with matters of general public importance. Over the past year the Supreme Court dealt with many large cases such as the Right to Die case, the surrogacy case, the Lissadel right of way case but likewise would have dealt with a number of procedural matters, which while important to the parties involved, would not have been of general public importance. The new Court of Appeal will now deal with these matters and will free up the Supreme Court.
Additionally there are 7 Judges sitting on the Supreme Court whereas in the Court of Appeal they have 10 Judges and there can be other Judges added. This has now vastly increased the amount of Judges to deal with appeals as previously there were 7 Judges who sat in groups of 3 or 5 or 7 Judges to hear cases and now there are 10 for the Court of Appeal who sit in groups of 3 together with the 7 Supreme Court Judges to deal with those matters of general public importance.