All records created in relation to court proceedings are considered 'court records'. As these records relate to the business of the court, they are within the control of the judge concerned.
Section 42 (a) (i) of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 prevents the release of court records other than a record relating to the general administration of the courts, which states
'This Act does not apply to
(a) a record held by
(i) the courts, (…) and relating to, or to proceedings in, a court (…), other than—
(II) a record relating to the general administration of the courts or the offices of the courts.'
The Freedom of Information Act does not apply to court records and therefore access to 'court records' cannot be granted under the Act.
Court records are under the control of the courts and not the Courts Service, in accordance with section 65 of the Court Officers Act 1926 which states that
'all proofs and all other documents and papers lodged in or handed in to any court in relation to or in the course of the hearing of any suit or matter shall be held by or at the order and disposal of the judge or the senior of the judges by or before whom such suit is heard.'
Access to court records
Court records are under the control of the judiciary and are not accessable under the Freedom of Information Acts.
Outside of the Freedom of Information Acts access to certain court records may be given to the parties concerned or their legal representatives.
Persons seeking access to court records should contact the court office where the case was heard. The court office staff will explain the procedures which apply.
Here is a list of contact details for all court offices.
Court recordings and transcripts
Special procedures are in place for any party who wishes to apply for access to a recording of court proceedings. The rules of court governing the procedure to be followed when seeking access to any recording of court proceedings and the terms on which access may be allowed are prescribed in the following Statutory Instruments:
◦ S.I. No. 99 of 2013 - District Court Rules (Recording of Proceedings) 2013
◦ S.I. No. 100 of 2013 - Circuit Court Rules (Recording of Proceedings) 2013
◦ S.I. No. 101 of 2013 - Superior Court Rules (Recording of Proceedings) 2013
Any request for access to the record of court proceedings must be made by formal application to the trial judge in the proceedings, and on notice to the other party or parties to the proceedings.
It is a matter for the judge to decide whether, and in what format, access to the record is provided. Neither Courts Service officials nor court registrars have any function in determining whether a person may be allowed such access.
If an application for court recordings has been granted by the judge, the applicant must pay the cost of the recording. The cost of producing a transcript of a recording is approximately €200 per hour of audio recording.