1. Assessment and Recommendations

This study primarily aims to analyse the state of judicial staffing in Ireland, assessing whether the judiciary is adequate in size and composition in light of current case and non-case workloads. It also evaluates trends and needs within the context of good practices of OECD countries like Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US, addressing recommendations that could support Ireland's ongoing efforts to strengthen co-ordination among justice stakeholders and modernise court, human resources, data collection and case management practices, including for lay litigants. In so doing the study also highlights international judicial performance standards in an effort to enable Ireland to benchmark its strategic objectives against these standards. This chapter summarises key policy recommendations1 to support the ongoing efforts in the country to ensure effective planning of the judicial workforce and to strengthen the overall performance of courts.

The primary aim of the study was to assess the current judicial positions needed in view of existing annual workload and current procedures, state of case-management techniques and technologies. Overall, the results of the assessment show that, currently, more positions are needed at every court level. The study identifies a need for an average minimum increase required of around 26.2%. This need may be exacerbated by the impact of upcoming legislative changes, such as the creation of new Family law courts, shifts in how cases will be handled at different court levels, and increased training requirements resulting from the EU Training Strategy 2021-2024.

At the same time, the judicial needs may also be affected by the ongoing reforms and implementation of some of the recommendations contained in this report aiming to support more efficient court operations. In this context and since the impact of more streamlined and better automated processes are difficult to assess at this time, a phased approach to increasing the permanent positions could be meaningful. The exact phasing process and numbers of positions to aim at initially and in the medium term will need to be established in consultation with the government and the judiciary. The study recommends that further position adjustments be decided using updated Delphi estimates and new case data from Courts Service after some changes are made to current processes.

The study has also underscored that temporary judicial resources (e.g., judicial back-up teams, part-time and temporary judges, and employment of retired judges up to a certain age [phased retirement]) in addition to the permanent positions could be useful to address case backlogs generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to cover for sick judges and emergencies, while putting in place the necessary safeguards for judicial independence. These options can also prove an effective long-term solution to address temporary judicial resource shortages and avoid high backlog rates in the future.

Importantly, while it was not the focus of the report, the weighted workload study results and stakeholder interviews point to the need for a wider organisational review, which could map in detail the flow of different case types at a particular court level and in different geographic locations to identify efficiency options. This organisational review could include each processing step, action and decision from first registration through to final decision at every stage of a case and by all those involved, including litigants and their lawyers. It could take into account that the role played by courts is central to the Criminal Justice System and therefore has significant impacts on prison, probation and other related entities. When any reforms are made to increase the capacity of the Courts, this may have implications for other agencies in terms of capacity, collaboration mechanisms with the courts, digital tools, etc.

Availability of administrative, research and other staff support greatly impacts how efficiently judges can work and how much time they spend on individual cases. Space for enhancing judicial and court efficiency by making shifts to the existing administrative, research and quasi-judicial functions on the one hand and by upscaling qualified support staff on the other has been identified across court levels. The report suggests to consider a support needs assessment to identify opportunities for adjusting support staff job descriptions, hiring and reporting requirements to better reflect the changing needs of judges serving on different court levels, including lawyers to support judgement writing, secretarial staff, sufficient numbers of qualified registrars, and staff to support enhanced case management approaches and related data tracking. As electronic processes and IT solutions expand, additional support to effectively use those will also grow in importance, which may require a revision of quasi-judicial staff numbers, especially at some court levels where this figure can play an important role in interlocutory hearing phases.

  • Given current workloads and court procedures, consider increasing the number of permanent judges at all court levels, in line with the results of the study.

  • Consider conducting a detailed process and organisational assessment to understand fully the need for streamlining operations.

  • Explore the possibility to engage temporary, part-time and retired judges to better reflect the current needs of the judicial work environment and provide flexibility to address temporary resource needs, while ensuring appropriate safeguards to protect judicial independence and impartiality.

  • Advanced succession planning and early onboarding: These tools may smooth staff transition between new and retiring judges, to benefit from the experience of retiring judges to train newcomers and avoid gaps in case management. These practices could also benefit from conducting future needs studies to plan effective hiring in advance and avoid the creation of bottlenecks and further case backlog.

  • Support needs assessment. Review the judicial support needs to ensure that judges across each court level have the staff support required, including quasi-judicial positions as well as the Judicial Assistant and Court Registrar job requirements. This should be undertaken in collaboration with the Courts Service to collect the relevant information, assess the results and develop support staff options. Consider adapting job description and hiring practices of Judicial Assistants and quasi-judicial staff following the results of the evaluation, as well as reviewing the possibility to introduce a function of staff attorney to support judges in screening of cases and conducting in-depth legal research. To test new job descriptions and support structures, pilots could be conducted such as a central support staff team and testing of online staff support options.

The study finds that it would be important for courts to outline a vision for the future from the perspective of and for the judiciary. A strategic outlook to frame decision-making in these areas is necessary for the entire court system as well as for each court level for the next few years, also to align with the Court Modernisation strategy of the Courts Service.

In addition, overall effectiveness of the justice system and the ability to implement reforms depend on the performance of and coordination across the entire justice chain. Relevant justice actors, including the Department of Justice, the judiciary and Courts Service all play a crucial part in the successful modernisation of the courts. This calls both for establishing effective cooperation mechanisms and ensuring clarity in the distribution of roles and responsibilities, also with a view to ensuring seamless case management, positive user experience and strong justice performance.

To develop useful case-management approaches and the related IT systems, the judiciary would need to play an important role in their design. The study highlights that closer cooperation is needed among the judiciary and Courts Service to develop data-collection strategies to track and assess judgment writing timelines, time standard setting, etc. It also identifies the possibility to consider establishing a specialised committee or group within the Courts Service’s internal structure, or on the Courts Service Board, to focus on case management and overall court performance to develop overall policies and drive changes in this area. The study signals limitations in the Courts Service’s internal capacities, particularly in relation to IT and automation projects. In this regard, the study finds scope to establish new partnerships, including outsourcing projects that require specific technical expertise.

Other actions require fundamental leadership from the Department of Justice, such as the consolidation and redesign of forms required by litigants. The Parliament taking whole-of-state and whole-of-justice-chain approaches in legislative reforms could advance the broader justice modernisation agenda and the overall implementation of the recommendations.

  • Clarity of responsibilities, leadership, co-ordination mechanisms and internal capacities: Enhance clarity in the distribution of responsibilities and strengthen collaboration among the judiciary, Courts Service and other relevant institutions regarding case-management policies and data collection. Consider establishing innovative co-ordination arrangements across institutions and external partnerships to boost Courts Services’ internal capacities.

  • Establishment of a specialised group to focus on case management and overall court performance: Consider the establishment of a specialised committee or group within the Courts Service’s internal structure, or on the Courts Service Board, to develop overall policies and drive changes in this area.

  • Strategic outlook: Develop a 10-year strategy for the judiciary that aligns with the current strategy for Courts Service to transform the courts into the modern institution and articulates a broader strategic outlook and framework for the full justice chain, including the criminal justice system.

  • Allocation of resources: Strengthen the match between investment in court operations and the courts where most users are located, through possible re-balancing of the allocation of resources to venues where they are most needed, while ensuring accessible justice throughout the country.

  • Cross-jurisdictional collaboration: Strengthen coordination mechanisms across relevant courts where there are separate criminal, family law and, where applicable, child-protection hearings arising from the same incident, to ensure seamless procedures for litigants, avoid victim re-traumatization (where applicable) and foster efficiency gains.

  • Provincial sittings and venue coverage: Identify potential alternatives to support provincial sittings and assess provincial venue coverage, including by leveraging digital options.

The sound management of human resources of the judiciary is increasingly viewed as fundamental for the efficiency of the justice system overall. In addition to evidence-based planning of judicial and support staff resources in the judiciary, this study provides a range of options in human resource management that can support overall court performance.

The report identifies room for Ireland to develop a comprehensive and strategic approach to human resource management for the judiciary, in particular one that is based on evidence. It highlights that by assessing judicial needs, judicial workload, workplace and applicant trends, as well as identifying avenues to continue strengthening judicial skills, Ireland may attract needed talent to the judicial profession and develop long-term position planning capacities. The study also finds room to further clarify the roles and responsibilities for human resource management processes related to judges, which is important to implement a coherent and coordinated human resources strategy. With the present study, Ireland has already taken important steps in this journey, with a first set of workload data available. Eventually, a permanent mechanism could be established to track and anticipate judicial staffing needs systematically in light of evolving caseloads, legislation and socioeconomic context.

In Ireland, judicial selection and hiring will become the responsibility of the Judicial Appointments Commission if its creation is approved through the ongoing legislative reform by the Oireachtas. Handling of complaints against judges and judicial training are now the responsibility of the Judicial Council created in 2019. In regards to hiring practices, the report highlights that while qualification criteria for the selection of candidates are stated in a general manner by law, they are currently not differentiated by judicial positions and therefore remain generic. Promising improvements are foreseen following the establishment of the new Judicial Appointments Commission if it is approved, including the publication of statements regarding the necessary experience, skills, etc. The selection process was reported to be time-consuming and leads to some delays when new positions were being filled. In addition, the study identifies scope to promote further religious, ethnic, and professional background diversity in the judiciary through outreach programs.

Regarding judicial training in Ireland, until recently it has been limited to basic on-boarding training and an average two days of continued judicial education per year for sitting judges until recently. Some gaps have been identified in the existing training scheme, which could benefit from additional on-boarding and continued learning opportunities. They include training on judicial soft skills, specific training on IT use and case management for all court staff, as well as further training on the alternatives to custody options in criminal cases. In addition, future needs may include the new requirements on EU law training, which implies that the provision of judicial training in Ireland would need to increase (along with training for other justice sector professionals and staff). In order to make these additional trainings possible, providing staff with enough time and back-up personnel to attend training courses or programmes would be important.

In this context, Ireland could benefit from an in-depth detailed study to ascertain the training needs and opportunities of its judiciary and support staff. The resulting initiatives could be coordinated by the Judicial Studies Director in the Judicial Council.

  • Data and analysis for judicial resources needs: Building on the OECD workload study, efforts should continue to develop a set of base data that can be fine-tuned to inform the impact of new legislation, new case management practices, changes in caseload trends, etc. on future judicial resource needs, as well as to inform the development of an effective automated case management system and monitor justice sector reforms.

  • Clarity of HRM responsibilities: Enhance clarity of responsibilities for the full set of human resource management processes related to judges to ensure that current human resource support for judges is effective across all courts, and that planning strategically reflects future as well as current needs.

  • Standardising and modernising judicial HRM processes, including selection, hiring and judicial performance management through developing standardised guidance, relevant data, reviewing processes and ensuring sufficient training to those involved.

  • Enhance training and specialisation opportunities for judges and support staff. The study identified a great need and desire for continued training across all levels, especially at the lower courts.

  • Ensure a strong leadership for human resources planning and management in the judiciary. The Judicial Council could take on this role; if so it could benefit from adequate and qualified staffing to ensure it can fulfil its human resources functions.

  • Comprehensive HRM strategy: Develop an evidence-based, strategic and holistic approach to human resource management for the judiciary, including on attracting, retaining, and developing best talent.

  • Judicial workforce planning: Devise a sustainable approach that takes into account workload shifts in staffing practices throughout the years, such as periodic obligations for the judiciary to report on the judicial resources needs, and builds capacity in the Courts Service and judiciary to model workloads and report regularly on staff needs.

  • Consider undertaking a training needs assessment to define priority training needs, reflect on the needed skills and competencies for judges and all court staff and how training can become a lever for increased efficiency and effectiveness of the justice system as a whole.

  • Consider collecting relevant HRM data (sick leaves, vacation days, retirement schedules, diversity characteristics) in a standardised manner across all courts to support decision-making and planning.

  • Ensure cooperation, coherence and exchanges between judges across the territory: Ensure the creation of spaces for judges throughout the State, particularly in rural areas, to receive adequate training and be able to attend exchanges with colleagues, both virtually and in-person.

Access to solid data that holistically reflects the work of the judges and the courts is essential to predicting court resources needed for the future, and in ensuring proper court and case management. The study identifies a series of challenges in the nature of data currently collected and analysed in Ireland, and therefore an in-depth review of practices in this area is recommended. In this context, it could be helpful to improve Courts Service’s capacities and resources to generate the relevant data and to drive an evidence-based transformation of the justice system.

In addition, court performance data should be developed after timelines and other performance goals are established for the courts. To accomplish this, the most efficient process is often for judges and Courts Service to come together and define timelines, backlog and other case and court performance measures using similar experiences elsewhere.

There also appears to be scope to develop accompanying assessments when legislative –and other– reforms are implemented in the courts, including post-implementation assessments. Monitoring and evaluating the impact of initiatives to capture lessons learned, to inform further change and reform plans, be they of legislative or organisational nature, can provide valuable guidance for future initiatives.

  • Data collection: Ensure an increase in regular and systematic data collection on a wide range of issues affecting court performance, such as the average hearing time, also assist in case management, resource planning, performance measurement and monitoring and evaluation of justice sector reforms. In particular, this would require determining necessary case process data to begin the development of time standards, backlog definitions and eventually broader performance measures through a collaborative effort among the judiciary, the Department of Justice and the Courts Service. Consider further clarification of the roles and responsibilities of the judges and Courts Service Staff regarding keeping track of data, developing analytical reports and developing resulting recommendations.

  • Data tracking for case management and court rules: Put in place improved data tracking processes (e.g., for case processing data, age of pending caseloads, number of adjournments) to inform the development of solid case management and court rules (and adjusted legislation) to control adjournments and require early discovery, including via streamlined cooperation efforts with the Courts Service.

  • Develop a definition of backlog for each case type and court level, through a collaborative effort including the judiciary and Courts Service, to enable its measurement.

  • Courts Service: given the pivotal role to be played by Courts Service in the development of sound data collection and use policies for effective case and court management, consider assessing whether there are any adjustments necessary to its role, structure, human, technical and financial resources.

Case management is one of the focal points of this study. Courts in Ireland already manage case lists using case management techniques at different levels, and the pandemic has spurred additional efficiency options. This opens up opportunities to evaluate, strengthen and expand these approaches, possibly by introducing differentiated techniques based on case complexity and the use of court-level management teams to monitor case progression. In general, the study shows significant room for courts to improve their efficiency by adopting international case management standards and designing IT systems to support individual judges in monitoring their workload. Enhanced case management would also allow a targeted approach to tackle backlog of cases across court levels, measure adjournments and settlements and screen appeals early to ensure they comply with legal requirements.

The judicial time-study also highlighted the potential backlog that currently affects the Irish judiciary, aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Limited data and the lack of a backlog definition makes it challenging to assess the extent of the backlog. To this end, the report suggests several strategies to tackle it in the immediate and longer term. After a definition is established for each case-type, specific teams tasked with this purpose could assist in compiling backlogged cases and developing solid case management plans with the parties to resolve these cases, as well as exploring opportunities for faster processing, such as the use of written or digital means to conduct procedural steps.

To introduce improved case management across all courts, case and court specific timelines can be developed in the short-term. Key possible techniques to pilot include fast track for small claims, triage by case type and complexity, effective limits to adjournments and multiplicity of interlocutory hearings. For this, adequate data will be needed, and any automated system will need to be able to track these data accordingly. Well trained staff to support both the development and especially effective implementation of new case management approaches, the related data collection and analysis would need to be available. An enhanced and comprehensive file management system would also help standardisation and ensure that automation is possible once the technology is developed.

Ireland has made important strides towards digital transformation of the justice system, which were also accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, hundreds of virtual trials were held, and as a result efforts are now underway in some court levels to develop and standardise guidelines for e-document submissions and make digital judgment banks available. While these new practices require appropriate evaluation to minimise risks to the population, they have proven to be effective avenues to explore for the future.

Yet paper-based work remains the norm in many cases and that upgrades are necessary throughout IT equipment and connectivity in the Irish judiciary, with challenges identified to make inputs to case records, scheduling of case events, sending notifications, controlling and storing final records, expenditure accounting, budgeting, tracking, and accounting for filing fees and revenue and human resource and talent management functions. The Courts Service’s current Modernisation Plan envisions the creation of an advanced automated case management system, which could have a positive impact in improving efficiency and the availability of data for a range of purposes. Achieving this goal would require intensive involvement from the judiciary and should be developed with new timelines and other performance measures in mind. The design could benefit from adopting a people-centred lens that ensure the system is user-friendly for staff, counsels and parties alike. It could also consider inter-operability, or even integration with, existing alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, to capture processes both online (online dispute resolution (ODR)) and in-person. The development of a sound system that provides the court with a solid platform that is nevertheless flexible enough to make the constant adjustments needed as legislation, rules, policies and user needs change will take time. Therefore, it should be understood as a long-term undertaking that may require several years to develop.

Importantly, any IT-supported solution would need to be accessible and easy to handle by all who access the courts. Limitations in bandwidth, connectivity and available technology may make it difficult for some individuals or organisations to participate in virtual court processes, creating a vulnerable group due to the digital divide. In addition, the impacts of virtual trials on litigants, judges and support staff alike must be taken into account in strategic planning. A balance must be struck between ensuring that technology’s benefit to people is maximised and protecting fundamental human rights and the most vulnerable groups. In this context, a multichannel approach to justice that offers different possibilities to cater to the needs of each group would be preferable.

In this context, it could be useful to build on the lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic to identify long-term solutions that enhance efficiency of the justice system. Ireland could consider systematising learnings through the creation of a “Lessons Learnt Committee” that includes all relevant stakeholders and judges from each court level. The aim could be to assess the impact of new processes and IT solutions introduced on users, especially vulnerable groups, and other justice sector officials, and on time requirements for judges and court staff. In view of the lessons learned, Ireland could reflect on the needed adjustments to court operations and infrastructure, support for court users, proposals for legislative adjustments, and staffing and budget requests. Building on these efforts, the report highlights that there is also scope to work on the system’s preparedness for emergencies.

Courts efforts to streamline case flow may require some changes in the applicable legislation to be effective. At the legislative and court rules level, Ireland could benefit from adopting measures to streamline cases and enhance court control. In line with what was already suggested by the Kelly Report, adopting early discovery measures, adjusting adjournment rules, timelines and establishing submissions standards and e-document rules may be beneficial. These should be adapted to the needs of each court level, as highlighted throughout the study. In advance of the legislative changes resulting from the Kelly Report, the report finds that judges may consider developing early court rule changes and directions, especially those that could be introduced before laws are changed, to streamline case flow.

Scope to simplify existing procedures through greater specialisation, the creation of ODR and better small claims processing options for certain case types, for example licensing and simple road traffic cases at the District Court level, has also been identified.

  • Consider piloting targeted case management efforts by court level: Consider pilot-testing specific and differentiated case management techniques led by case management teams (possibly led by a judge), following a review of priority areas and implementation requirements, including adjustments to staffing and training.

  • Procedural simplification and automation: Maintain existing simplification and streamlining of procedures derived from the COVID-19 pandemic with a view to reducing administrative burdens on people and businesses. Identify options for streamlining and requirements for the automation of case processes, including e-forms, requirements and standards for full e-filing, as well as more detailed data tracking of case processes and timelines, in collaboration with the Courts Service. Consider the development of early court rule changes and directions in advance of legislative changes resulting from the Kelly Report as well as standardising operations by the County Registrar and Courts Service staff across different locations.

  • Reducing backlogs: Develop an initial strategy for involving back-up judges and/or considering the creation of backlog teams, including legal and Courts Service staff, with a view to implementing backlog reduction strategies.

  • Consider upgrading IT systems and use of digital tools:

    • Consider upgrading and connecting various IT systems and applications to enable better decision making and to support the court to manage its resources according to case volume and demands, as well as to increase provincial coverage.

    • Enhancing use of e-documents: Continue efforts to develop and standardise the current guidelines for e-document submissions.

    • Multi-channel service delivery: In view of increasing adoption and adaptation of technologies by the justice system, establish a multichannel approach to legal and justice service delivery to ensure vulnerable groups are reached, while placing emphasis on ensuring fair access to technology so that no groups are disadvantaged when accessing justice.

    • Monitor impact of virtual hearings on judicial workloads: Consider deepening the understanding of the impact of virtual hearings on judicial time requirements, including through Delphi estimates of the requirements for virtual versus in-person hearings

    • Online judgement banks: Strengthen the availability of internal online judgement banks/ repositories to support judgement writing.

  • Case file management policies: In relation to the Courts Service, assess current case file management policies and ensure clearly established procedures, standards and regular audit processes are in place for the creation, maintenance, disposal and retention of files, supported by related staff training.

  • Goals for court and case management: Set goals for court and case management overall and at each court level, and develop advanced case management options in collaboration with the Courts Service and other stakeholders. In collaboration with the Director of Judicial Studies of the Judicial Council, ensure advanced case management training for judges and any case management teams is provided.

  • Court timelines and performance measures: Building on the experience with judgement delivery timelines in the Court of Appeal, consider the CEPEJ recommended minimum timelines to implement related measures with the needed staff, underpinned by data support from the Courts Service. Eventually, consider adopting broader court performance measures in Ireland, benefiting from experiences in other countries, such as the US National Center for State Courts’ Model regarding the calculation of time standards.

  • Caseflow in the Criminal Justice System: Consider matching annual reports with an IT system that enables judges to track the pending inventory of their cases and a clear idea of caseflow in the Criminal Justice System.

  • Court specialisation: Consider selected additional court specialisation options, such as a District Traffic Court in Dublin and adjusted small claims operations, as well as greater use of online dispute resolution (ODR).

  • Legal framework: Consider adjustments to the legislative framework to support efforts to better streamline processes and forms to enable access to a judge to all litigants irrespective of their financial capacity or legal literacy.

  • Invest in the development of an automated case management system, in line with the Courts Service’s Modernisation Plan. Consider adopting a people-centred lens to ensure its design is user-friendly, accessible, and integrated across court levels and alternative dispute resolution methods.

  • Stakeholder engagement in automation processes: Ensure the involvement of all relevant stakeholders, including the judiciary, to provide needed guidance for the planned phased automation of all processes to secure a system that facilitates the tracking of individual cases effectively, and supports regular data-driven processes, staffing and user needs assessments in the long run.

  • Monitor the impact of digitalisation across the system and its users: Consider ensuring that data collection and case management systems being developed can effectively track the use of virtual/audio hearings or online dispute resolution (ODR) solutions created by case type and court level. At the same time, measure and evaluate the impact of digital tools on court users, especially vulnerable groups, those without access to digital connectivity or skills, and sensitive user categories such as victims, witnesses, minors and the accused.

  • Lessons learned from COVID-19: Continue efforts to leverage the modernisation measures adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic, including by systematising the lessons learnt and analysing the impact of new measures to adopt them as permanent if appropriate.

  • Emergency preparedness: To ensure courts are prepared for future pandemic or other crisis situations, consider updating the disaster management and response plan based on current experiences, along with mock implementation test and related training programmes.

The study highlighted that the number of lay litigants is increasing across court levels. Lay litigants need detailed information about their legal rights, how courts work, filing documents and handling their cases, which absorb many court resources. While some systems are in place to support lay litigants in Ireland, there is scope to increase accessibility of information further, including through guides to be made available covering proceedings in all court jurisdictions utilising audio-visual as well as textual formats, the creation of a central on-line information hub and drop-in locations to request advice. Efforts to this effect are being targeted to be completed by 2024. The Access to Justice Civil Reform User Group can be a useful avenue for engagement with lay users in this process.

Similarities exist between the needs of lay litigants and the needs of all citizens who wish to better understand their rights, obligations and possibilities to achieve a legal remedy, including crime victims and witnesses. Similar solutions to provide access to accurate and easy to understand information about court processes and appropriate tools (e.g., self-help options) and ensure appropriate courtroom environment for proceedings could be beneficial for access to justice in Ireland. To deepen this analysis, the study recommends reviewing citizen justice needs and pathways to identify the avenues by which they may access legal information, assistance and counselling, including legal aid, and how they understand existing mechanisms to resolve their disputes, including the court system and ADR. This would help to develop meaningful options to address gaps in this area in collaboration with lawyers and other public services, as relevant.

  • Legal literacy support for lay litigants and the general public: Continue to increase the availability and accessibility of information for lay litigants in several formats across all court jurisdictions, especially regarding help in deciding to seek an appeal.

  • Consider simplification options: Building on existing structures and by engaging through the Access to Justice Civil Reform User Group, consider providing more effective support for lay litigants, including special filing and other procedural options.

  • Ad hoc training: Consider providing judges and judicial support staff with training on appropriate approaches to handle cases with lay litigants effectively in a way that safeguards their rights and promotes the efficient flow of the procedures.

  • Consider reviewing citizen’s justice needs and pathways (possibly through conducting a legal need survey), including their journey to access legal information and assistance, to access lawyers, including legal aid, and to understand the existing legal mechanisms at their disposal such as the courts and ADR mechanisms, and develop options to address gaps in this area.

Building on the country’s positive steps, these recommendations aim to support Ireland on the journey of improving court performance with a view to fostering citizen and business trust in the justice system while driving legal certainty and economic growth. They are tailored to Ireland’s strengths and its strategic priorities for reform, using international benchmarking practices, to help the country improve outcomes for citizens and business. Moving ahead, they can help ensure that the modernisation efforts already underway in Ireland are underpinned by a clear understanding of what drives efficient workload distribution, courts' performance and the well-being of judicial and support workforce. The OECD stands ready to continue supporting Ireland in strengthening the resilience and responsiveness of its justice system.


← 1. This chapter summarises main policy recommendations from the study. More detailed recommendations and specific recommendations for courts at each level are provided in relevant chapters.

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