The effectiveness and efficiency of the justice system are important factors for strengthening citizens’ trust, ensuring the proper functioning of markets, and driving inclusive growth. The certainty of judicial decisions, the accessibility of judicial services, effective contract enforcement and secure property rights are demonstrated drivers of economic activity and foreign direct investment. Effective justice institutions are critical for protecting democratic values and strengthening the social contract between citizens and the state.

Acknowledging this, Ireland has launched an ambitious strategy to build a more inclusive, efficient and sustainable justice sector. Irish citizens recognise these efforts: Ireland is one of the OECD countries with a higher percentage of citizens trusting their government and courts, as highlighted in the recent OECD Survey on the Drivers of Trust in Public Institutions.

As part of the OECD work on accessible, effective and efficient justice institutions, this study seeks to support these efforts by analysing the judicial workforce and relevant support structures and processes currently employed by the Irish courts. In particular, the study aims to contribute to the deliberations of the Irish Judicial Planning Working Group, which was established to identify reform initiatives and evaluate staffing needs to enhance the efficient administration of justice over the next five years.

The study methodology calculated judicial full-time positions in Ireland using the number of filings and the average amount of time required to manage distinct case types (case weight), divided by a judge’s working hours throughout a year. The case weights were obtained through a judicial time study and verified through Delphi vetting estimates across the Irish Court of Appeals, the High Court, the District Courts and Circuit Courts. The study also included stakeholder interviews helped identify options to enhance the efficiency of court procedures and infrastructure. It benefited from comparable data and peer reviews from OECD countries including Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Ireland has the potential to shine as an international dispute-resolution hub. To do so, Ireland needs to continue investing in the court reforms that lie at the heart of its 2020 Programme for Government, while supporting stronger leadership in pursuing these reforms in a way that enhances trust and collaboration among justice sector stakeholders, as well as the broader public.

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