Dublin had the longest waiting times for criminal cases in the District Court last year and was also among the slowest for processing civil actions, Courts Service figures show.However Sligo takes the longest time in the State for processing civil cases.
For civil actions, the waiting time between receipt of an application and the date it was listed for hearing was 17 weeks in Dublin, 16 in Galway with the national average being about 8 to 10 weeksIn Sligo that figure rises up to 24 weeks.
For criminal cases there is an agreement with the Garda that a period of 12 to 14 weeks be allowed between the issuing of a summons and the first court date, in order to allow time for the service of the summons.The Irish Times
reports that most district courts, including Sligo, had waiting times that chimed with this agreement, though some had longer waiting times. These included Carlow (20 to 28 weeks), Ballina (15 to 20), Kilkenny and Letterkenny (20 to 24) and Limerick (19).
While Dublin took about 26 weeks from receipt of a criminal summons to a scheduled date for a hearing, the quickest court in the State, in Tralee, Co Kerry, managed the same process in eight to 12 weeks.
For domestic violence applications and maintenance/guardianship applications, most courts listed such cases to the next scheduled sitting.However, in Carlow, Cork, Trim and Limerick, the waiting could be as long as 10 to 12 weeks. In Dublin the average wait was six weeks, the figures show.
The Courts Service monitors waiting times in the service and adopts its plans on a rolling basis in reaction to any difficulties, a spokesman for the service said.
Legal sources said the variation between district courts in different regions had to do with a mix of factors including case types, volume, the practices of local solicitors and barristers, and the attitudes and practices of judges.When there are perceived difficulties in some areas, a support judge may be sent in to deal with growing backlogs.
The bulk of public interactions with the courts each year are in the District Court. In 2016 there were 133,724 new civil matters and 382,325 new criminal matters in the District Court, with 60 per cent of all orders issued relating to road traffic offences. The total number of matters in the courts system was approximately 750,000.