Pre-trial procedure - Dublin Circuit

The Circuit Criminal Court

Dublin Circuit - County of the City of Dublin


1. With a view to avoiding unnecessary delays in criminal proceedings, identifying cases in which pleas may be entered in advance of a trial date and facilitating the commencement of trials in criminal proceedings in the Circuit Court at the time and date appointed, the practice referred to in this Direction will be introduced on a pilot basis in respect of all cases listed for trial in this circuit from the 1st day of December 2012 and all new cases returned to the Court for trial in this circuit from the 1st day of January 2013.

2. A pre-trial hearing will be held on a Friday at least four weeks prior to the trial date fixed. This shall be attended by the accused and a legal representative of both prosecution and defence (where applicable).

3. At this hearing, the accused will be required to enter a formal plea before the court. If it is intended to proceed to trial at that stage, a plea to one count without prejudice will suffice.

4. The prosecution will be required to be in a position to specify the following matters to the court:-

a) Proof by written statement  (section 21, Criminal Justice Act, 1984)  

  1. Whether any signed written statement(s) has/have been served by the Prosecution proposing to tender it in evidence for the purposes of section 21 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984. If so, a list should be furnished with reference to the person making each statement and the date of the statement, together with any notice of objection served on the prosecution within the prescribed period.
  2. Whether the parties or their solicitors have agreed that any written statement(s) be tendered in evidence under section 21, and/or whether application is being made to require a person(s) making a statement for the purpose of section 21 to attend to give evidence in court. If so, details of the relevant statement(s)/witness(es) should be furnished; 

b) Proof by formal admission (section 22, Criminal Justice Act, 1984)

Whether any admission(s) as to fact has/have been made by the prosecution for the purposes of section 22 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984. If so, a list of admissions and the date of the making of admission should be furnished;

c) Video link, video recorded and CCTV evidence

  1. Whether it is intended to apply for leave to have a witness give evidence through a live television link in accordance with section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1999.
  2. Whether it is intended that any person give evidence through a live television link under Part III of the Criminal Evidence Act, 1992.
  3. Whether it is intended to seek the appointment by the court of an intermediary through which questions would be put to a witness under Part III of the Criminal Ev idence Act, 1992.
  4. Whether it is intended to have admitted as evidence a video recording of any evidence.
  5. Whether an application will be made to allow the use of tape or disk playback equipment during the trial, or if it is it proposed to seek to use any other courtroom technology at the trial;

If any of the above applies, details must be provided, and it must be confirmed that the hardware and software concerned will be tested in advance;

d) Legal representation for complainant (section 4A , Criminal Law (Rape) Act, 1981)

Whether it is anticipated that legal representation for the complainant will be required;

e) Witnesses

  1. A list of witnesses and addresses intended to be called by the prosecution at the trial (for jury panel information purposes) should be provided.
  2. Confirmation should be provided that all witnesses have been contacted and have indicated availability for the trial date. If not, known details of any potential witness difficulty must be specified to the court at this stage.
  3. Any particular requirements or details pertinent to the likely order of evidence at trial should be identified;


f) Interpreters

Whether the Prosecution require the use of an interpreter(s), and if so, to document the witness(es) for whom and language for which interpretation is required;

g) Prosecution disclosure

On the basis of the information available at the date of the hearing, confirmation should be provided that the prosecution is in compliance with disclosure obligations, and that no defence requests are outstanding at that time;

h)  Interviews (please note: this item is confined to the specific contents of the interview, and is not concerned with general issues of admissibility);

Where the papers served by the prosecution include a memorandum/memoranda of an interview/interviews with the accused and/or voluntary or cautioned statement/statements by the accused, confirmation should be provided that the memorandum/memoranda and/or statement/statements have been reviewed by the prosecution with a view to editing and producing an agreed version of the contents of same and/or identifying issues which may require subsequent determination by the court.

If a review has not taken place, an explanation for this will be required.

Please note: The court requires that
(a) discussions between the defence and the prosecution on any such issue be completed before the date fixed for trial and
(b) agreed memoranda and/or statements be available for use without delay, or issues arising be identified and ready for immediate determination.

5. The defence will be required to be in a position to notify the court as to:

a) whether any factors exist affecting the ability of the trial to proceed on the date fixed;

b) whether any disclosure or other pre-trial issues are outstanding;

c) whether the defence require the use of an interpreter(s), and if so, to document the witness(es) for whom and language for which interpretation is required, and

d) whether there are any requirements for the running and presentation of the defence case which need to be addressed by the court or the Courts Service in advance. 

In the absence of such notification, it will be assumed that the defence has completed all necessary preparations for trial by that time. The defence are under the same obligation as the prosecution as set out above to ensure that any technology to be used has been or will be ready for use on the trial date. 

6. The solicitor and counsel for the prosecution and defence shall be obliged to consult with and obtain the necessary instructions from their respective clients for the purpose of complying fully with paragraphs 3, 4 and 5 of this direction (as applicable).

7. Where a date has been fixed for trial, to enable the defence to prepare for trial, the prosecution shall, save for good and sufficient reason, furnish an indictment to the defence within 4 weeks of the fixing of a trial date. 

Cases returned to the Circuit Court and first listed for trial after 1st January 2013

8. In addition to the foregoing provisions, these cases will be processed in the following manner:-

a) On the day of return for trial from the District Court, cases will be assigned a specific first mention date for a Friday not less than 3 weeks later, to which the accused will be remanded from the District Court.

b) Guilty pleas will be accepted on the first mention date. On that date, the court will fix a date for arraignment not less than eight weeks later, by which time all usual pre-arraignment matters must be dealt with and plea must be entered or a trial date requested. 

c) A longer period before arraignment will be assigned only where required by specific and unusual circumstances, such as the complexity of the case, where an appropriate additional period will be allowed. No further mention dates or adjournments will be permitted, save in exceptional circumstances.

9. The effectiveness of the practices aforementioned will be reviewed after the 1st day of January 2014, in consultation with representatives of practitioners, the Chief Prosecution Solicitor, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Courts Service.

Dated this 17th day of October 2012
Raymond Groarke
President of the Circuit Court

Circuit Court