What is case progression?
Case progression is the term given to the management of a case before it comes to trial. Its purpose is to ensure that proceedings are prepared in a manner which is fair, efficient and likely to keep the costs as low as possible. It also ensures that time and other resources of the court are put to best use. Cases which have gone through the case progression process are better prepared resulting in the cases being heard more quickly and trials being shorter.
In family law in Ireland most case progression hearings take place in the Circuit Court. The county registrar has a key role in case progression. He/she oversees the preparation of family law cases for trial, monitors the progress of the case pre-trial and makes final arrangements for the trial. The county registrar establishes what steps need to be taken to prepare the case for trial and sets a timetable for these steps to be completed. He/she can give a range of pre-trial directions and/or orders (for example the vouching of items in an affidavit of means and the identifying by the parties of the issues in dispute).
How does it work?
A hearing takes place before the county registrar after court proceedings have issued. The solicitors for both parties/the parties themselves attend. Each party to the case must complete a detailed questionnaire which helps identify the issues the parties are in agreement about and the ones which are disputed. The questionnaire and other forms are in the Circuit Court Rules. Prior to the hearing each party is required to vouch certain financial information.
The hearing helps identify if further pleadings are needed, and deals with matters such as vouching, discovery, service of pension relief notices, expert reports etc., and any other matters to be sorted out before the trial.
S.I. No. 358 of 2008: Circuit Court Rules (Case Progression in Family Law Proceedings), 2008