It is not the function of the Courts Service staff to provide legal advice, or guidance in selecting the appropriate procedures to use in court.
While they can identify forms for you and provide information about practice and procedure of the courts, they cannot tell you what to say in court, what to put in your forms, draft or complete your forms or recommend solicitors.
The Central Office of the High Court
The public office for the High Court is called the Central Office. It is in the main Four Courts building on Inns Quay. It is open on weekdays from 10.00 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. and it does not close for lunch.
Procedures in the High Court
To prepare your case to be heard before a judge a number of documents should be filed. Our guidelines provide information on some of the more common documents to be filed in the Central Office of the High Court. Further information can be found on the procedures to be followed in the Rules of the Superior Courts. These Rules and any amendments or up-dates are all statutory instruments. You should familiarise yourself with these rules and ensure that you follow them.
The Practice Directions of the courts also deal with court procedures.
The Courts Service website
You will find a wide range of information on this website including a number of the court forms used in the High Court and a number of information leaflets. There is a separate section on family law.
Finding information about your case
The High Court Search shows the names of all High Court cases, except those that must be heard in private, for example, family law and asylum cases. It also shows documents filed in each High Court case, the dates on which cases appear in the court lists, and the orders that have been made. It does not give access to the contents of any documents.
The Legal Diary contains information about hearing dates (trials, call-overs, lists to fix dates and motions). It is up-dated every day during the law terms .
Changes to hearing dates
Hearing dates may be changed for a number of reasons, for example, the parties or one of them may get an adjournment, a judge may be unavailable if an earlier case over-runs, or due to other unforeseen circumstances, such as severe weather.
The Central Office of the High Court and the registrars have no responsibility for contacting any litigants, including those representing themselves about court hearing dates or changes to court lists or case adjournments.
Information regarding changes to court lists is published on this website. In special circumstances, for example, during severe weather conditions the home page of the site is up-dated on a regular basis with information about cancellations, if any. You should check the website regularly.
Documents in civil High Court cases
Before a case can be tried in the High Court the parties must file / lodge various documents containing the details of their claim in the Central Office. They must then serve copies of them on each other. The Rules of the Superior Courts set out the documents that parties must lodge and serve for each type of case.
Filing / lodging documents in the High Court
You may attend in person in the Central Office to file / lodge the documents in your case or you may post documents you want to issue / file / lodge to the Central Office.
The postal address is Central Office of the High Court, Four Courts, Inns Quay, Dublin 7.
If you attend at the office and you are not in a position to remain in the Central Office to await service at a counter you may place your documents, in a sealed envelope in the deposit box in the Central Office for that purpose. If you post or deposit documents you must first pay the correct court fee on them and they must be fully completed, signed and dated. You must include a self-addressed sufficiently stamped envelope with your documents.
If the prescribed fee is not paid on the documents they will be returned to you without being checked, and documents that are incomplete or incorrect will be returned with a brief query sheet indicating the defect(s) found on them.
You must pay fees on many of the documents you file (see below). Documents that the Central Office accepts for filing are stamped with the Central Office date stamp. You must ensure that your document is correct and complete. Just because you file a document in the Central Office does not mean that it is correct and or/complete.
If you have requested a copy of any document on the file for your case you must call to collect it (requesting a copy is called ‘bespeaking’ it).
Fees for filing / lodging documents in High Court civil cases
You must pay court fees (called ‘stamp duty’) on documents lodged in most types of civil case, but not in most types of family law cases.
Details of these fees are set out in a statutory instrument called a Fees Order. Fees for the High Court are in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and High Court (Fees) Order. Fees are set in law and prescribed by statute and cannot be waived in any circumstances.
If you intend to defend yourself in High Court proceedings
If you are served with a High Court summons and you intend to defend yourself instead of instructing a solicitor to represent you, you must lodge a document called a memorandum of entry of appearance in the High Court Central Office (called ‘entering an appearance’).
The procedure for this is set out at Order 12 Rule 4 (a) (b) and (c) of the Rules of the Superior Courts. You must use the form prescribed in the Appendix A Part II of the Rules of the Superior Courts.
You must serve your appearance on the plaintiff’s solicitor so that the he / she will know that you are defending the case. You will find the solicitor’s name and address on page 3 of the summons. When you have done this the solicitor will serve you with any further documents in the case.
Serving a High Court summons
The requirements for service of a High Court summons are contained in Order 9 of the Rules of the Superior Courts. Anyone over the age of 16 years can serve a High Court summons.
Documents for use in court
The Rules of the Superior Courts set out which documents must be filed in the High Court Central Office. You must serve copies of all these documents and copies of the exhibits on the other party or parties to your case. You must also bring copies of all the documents you intend to rely on into court on the day of the hearing so you can give them to the judge. It is not the function of the Courts Service staff to bring copies of any documents into court for that purpose, this is entirely a matter for you.
Litigants may obtain reasonable assistance from a lay person, sometimes called a McKenzie friend (MF). Litigants assisted by MFs remain litigants in person. MFs have no independent right to provide assistance. They have no right to act as advocates or to carry out the conduct of litigation. Please read High Court Practice Directions 72 and 77 in this regard.
Access to court files in the High Court
In order to safeguard the integrity of court files maintained in the Central Office of the High Court files shall not be made available to any person attending at the office. For the avoidance of doubt this includes the parties to the proceedings and the solicitors on record, see High Court Practice Direction 86. A copy of a document on a file can be provided to a solicitor on record or a party to the proceedings where not legally represented upon payment of the relevant fee provided for in the Fees Order.
Expenses incurred in attending courts and court offices
The Courts Service takes no responsibility for expense incurred by any persons in travelling to any court or court office in connection with a case in which they are involved, whether as a party, as a witness or in any other capacity.
Judges are impartial in the administration of justice. For this reason they do not enter into correspondence with parties to cases before the courts and it is not appropriate to write to them. You should present any document you wish the judge to consider to that judge in open court.
Judges are, subject only to the Constitution and the law, independent in the exercise of their judicial functions. The conduct of and decision reached in any court case is a matter entirely for the judge. Any decision, finding or ruling of a judge can only be addressed through the courts and it is a matter for the person concerned to take advice as to whether to appeal that decision to a higher court.
Phoning the High Court Central Office
Each day as many as 100 people visit the Central Office. The priority of the Central Office staff is to provide them with the service they require, which may mean that phones cannot be answered at peak times. If possible you should communicate with the Central Office by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Listing of cases
If you want information about the date for which a case is listed, you can check online using High Court Search or send an email to email@example.com
If you want to contact the registrar who was in court for your case;
1. Look up your case on High Court Search. In the 'Order Details' view, the initials of the registrar will appear under the heading ‘Registrar’.
2. Send an email for the attention of the registrar to: firstname.lastname@example.org with the initials of the relevant registrar in the subject line. Do not enter any other text in the subject line.
3. Your specific query or request can be added into the body of the email.
Useful sources of information
Legal Aid Board
Money Advice and Budgeting Service (funded by the Citizens Information Board)
Irish Statutes and Statutory Instruments
We have compiled this information to answer some of the questions often asked in courts and court offices.
It does not constitute legal advice, and is not a guide to representing yourself in the High Court. Its purpose is to alert you to some of the things you need to know if you are representing yourself.