Annual Report For 2022 published
28th September 2023
The Courts Service Annual Report for 2022 - Modernisation programme in full swing, while trends vary across types of case
- 547,445 new cases come before the courts in 2022
- 39% increase in new civil cases before the District Court since 2021
- 5% increase in Divorces granted (4,915) against 2021
- 25% increase in cases before Central Criminal Court since 2019
- 15% increase in domestic violence applications coming to the courts since 2019
The Annual Report of the Courts Service was launched today and shows a marked increase in civil cases coming before the District Court.
There was also a noted reduction of less serious crime coming to the Courts.
- Road traffic offences 24% reduction since 2019
- Drug offences 10% since 2019
- Sexual offences down 11% since 2019
- Larceny/robbery/fraud matters down 18% since 2019
Welcoming the report Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said:
“I welcome the publication of the Courts Service Annual Report 2022. It provides a detailed insight into how our Courts Services have effectively managed both new and outstanding cases in a post pandemic context.
“It was always evident that the return to a full working environment after Covid would hold its challenges, but the Courts Service has met this challenge. And it is especially important that we make permanent the often transformative changes in how we worked during the pandemic. These include greater use of digital technologies, and the Courts Service has shown how this can improve the administration of justice.
“I look forward to working with the Courts Service to drive more reforms to better serve the public.
"I am also pleased to see the continuing successful implementation of the Court Service Modernisation Plan, which I am informed is progressing at a steady pace and making a significant impact on how the Service operates in digital world. As outlined in Justice Strategy 2023, reforming our Courts Services is a key goal to ensure that everyone can access justice in a fair and timely manner.
"These reforms will also introduce streamlined processes and increased court sittings in order to ensure that barriers or any undue delays are in the system are tackled. I am confident that once the recommendations made by the Judicial Planning Working Group are implemented, this will accelerate the progress already made to date under the Court Services Modernisation Plan.
"These Annual Reports serve as a timely reminder of the work undertaken by our courts every year and underline our commitment to improve the Service so that it can continue meet the standards expected by a modern Irish society.”
Chief Justice Donal O’Donnell, who is also chairperson of the Courts Service Board, welcomed the report, saying: “2022 saw the long-awaited lifting of measures which had been implemented to safeguard public health throughout the pandemic, and this presented the Courts Service with a new challenge as we faced into a gradual return to normal court practices: to continue to drive change and build on the significant progress made to date in expediting the reform and modernisation of the courts system in Ireland. The efforts of Courts Service staff and members of the judiciary in meeting this task head on are detailed throughout this report.”
The Chief Justice cited the successful project to share charge sheet and bail data between An Garda Síochána’s and the Courts Service’s ICT systems automatically, resulting in a 77% reduction in the time taken to complete this task. “The replacement of outdated and time-consuming manual processes with more efficient digital systems continued as part of the Courts Service’s Modernisation Programme.”
He also cited examples of where the work of the Courts had increased in 2022: The number of new cases increased by 25% in the Central Criminal Court and by 10% in the Circuit Court when compared with 2019 levels; nevertheless, the number of cases disposed of in both courts was higher in 2022 than in 2019. This trend was also reflected in the area of family law where new applications increased by 15% in the Circuit Court and by 10% in the District Court.
Angela Denning the CEO of the Courts Service remarked on the Courts in 2022: “With the full lifting of pandemic restrictions, the Courts resumed a busy pace of work in 2022. The post-pandemic period revealed some interesting trends which we will be monitoring closely to understand if they are part of long-term change or a short-term readjustment. Incoming civil business has not returned to the levels experienced before the pandemic. Whether this is due to a change in behaviour, or a legacy of the pandemic years remains to be seen.”
She noted that following the adoption by the Judicial Council of Personal Injury Guidelines there has been a significant reduction in the number of new personal injury actions commencing in the High Court and the Circuit Court.
Angela also acknowledged the work of the Judicial Planning Working Group (JPWG) undertaken in 2022. The Group was tasked with considering the number and type of judges required to ensure the efficient administration of justice over the next five years as well as the longer term. She said that as a member of the Group, the Courts Service provided data, and analysis to demonstrate the need for extra judges.
“We also demonstrated the direct correlation between the number of judges and the Courts Service resources needed to provide adequate support services. I believe our membership also helped the Group realise how much of our Modernisation Programme goals and activities are aligned to the efficiencies they envisage for the sector and users.”
The Office of the Legal Costs Adjudicator also published their Annual Report for2022 - see the end of this release for their news update.
Statistical Briefing and Overview
- 170,000 new civil cases were filed with the courts, up 21% from 140,365 in 2021; 137,159 cases were resolved by the courts, up from 106,372 in 2021 – an increase of 22%.
- A mixture of in-court and remote hearings has enabled the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal to be up-to-date with all matters.
- Personal Injuries: There was a 43% decrease in new Personal Injury cases lodged with the courts last year compared to 2019, 20% less than in 2020, and 17% less than 2021. Awards totalled €271m in 2022, down from €307m in 2021. The value of awards in the Circuit Court was only 58% of those awarded by the court in 2019.
- Possession of property applications increased 73% to 837 last year following restrictions in that area as part of the Covid response. However, the 2022 figure showed a decrease of 25% on the 2019 figure – which was before Covid issues.
- Breach of Contract cases saw a huge increase experienced in new cases the 1,458 cases in 2022 was a 493% increase from the 246 cases in 20221. This increase is attributable to matters relating to Concrete Block Supply claims.
- The entertainment and publicans business has bounced back from covid restrictions with a 311% increase in licensing applications, up to 44,253 from 10,764 in 2021.
- 39% increase in new civil cases before the District Court. 127,289 new cases up from 91,577 in 2021. Meanwhile the court had a 45% increase in the number of civil cases it disposed of, numbering 100,607 up from 69,193
- A 5% increase in applications for divorce saw the numbers rise to 4,915, up from 4,264 the previous year. There was a 12% decrease in applications for Judicial Separation - but a 22% increase in the numbers granted up to 340 from 278 in 2021.
- There were 4,915 divorce applications granted in 2022, a 5% increase on 2021 and 38% increase on 2019.
- The trend of decreasing judicial separation applications has continued since the introduction of the Family Law Act 2019, with 486 applications received in 2022 compared to 1,229 in 2019.
- Guardianship, custody, and access cases saw an 8% increase in applications but a 17% increase in the number of cases resolved. There were 5,862 maintenance applications in 2022, a 30% reduction from 2019
- There were 23,536 domestic violence application coming to the courts in 2022, a 15% increase in compared to 2019.
- There were 14,985 childcare, supervision and care orders – which include interim, repeat, and extension applications – in 2022, an increase of 46% on 2019.
- Total number of new criminal cases coming the courts in 2022 was 377,094
- There were 338,823 cases before the District Court, a 4.3% decrease on 2021.
- The court finalised 308,315 matters in 2022 compared to 298,917 in 2021 and 225,776 in 2020.
- New cases received in the District Court included:
- 181,969 road traffic offences, down from 226,000 in 2019; - a 24% reduction.
- 30,045 drug offences, down from 33,242 in 2019; a 10% reduction.
- 3,212 sexual offences, down from 3,600 in 2019; an 11% reduction.
- 30,692 Larceny/robbery/ fraud matters, down from 37,500 in 2019; an 18% reduction.
- 47,990 public order /assaults, up from 46,000 in 2019.
- The Circuit Court issued 13,166 sentences for more serious crime last year: this included 3,507 sentences of imprisonment, 2,058 suspended prison sentences, 630 probation orders, 152 community service orders, 3,602 bonds to keep the peace.
- There was a 50% reduction in new cases before the Special Criminal Court, down from 1,45 in 2021 to 69 in 2022.
(See page 91 - 96 of the Annual Report for a breakdown of various crime types and numbers of cases, orders and sentences in each for the Circuit and District Courts)
Central Criminal Court
Cases disposed of at Trial
Murder (including attempted murder)
Rape (including attempted rape)
- 262 sentences were imposed in rape cases upon conviction; there were 11 orders for the detention of a minor, 1 sentence fully suspended, 151 imprisonment / partly suspended, 99 imprisonment with no part suspended.
- Sentences in rape case saw no sentence less than 2 years; 22 between 2-5 years, 114 between 5-10 years, and 115 over 10 years.
- New Cases coming into the court included 33 defendants charged with 43 murders / attempted murders; 168 defendants charges with 1,112 offences of rape / attempted rape; 113 defendants charged with 1,730 sexual offences.
- Supreme Court: 145, applications for leave and new appeals lodged in the Supreme Court by year-end continued to be on trend with 2020 and 2021. Pending cases at year-end was 57. The Court has no backlog and appeals get a hearing date as soon as they are ready. The court delivered 80 written judgments in 2022.
- The Court of Appeal received 311 new Civil appeals in 2022 and resolved 362 cases. There were 369 cases pending at year end.
- In criminal matters the Court of Appeal had 261 appeals in respect of 2,022 offences lodged in 2022. Comparable figures in 2021 were 248 appeals in respect of 1,391 offences. The Court disposed of 270 appeals in respect of 1,872 offences (282 appeals in respect of 1,222 offences in 2021).
- Circuit Court to High Court Appeals occur in civil cases at a rate of 2.7%, from the High Court to the Court of Appeal is 1.39% and from the High Court to the Supreme Court in 0.25% of cases.
- In criminal cases the rate of appeal from the District to the Circuit court is 5.7% and from the Circuit, Central and Special Criminal Courts to the Court of Appeal at 14.4%