Under Article 34.3.1 of the Irish Constitution, you are entitled to issue proceedings in the High Court to litigate any issue of law or fact whether criminal or civil.
However, as the Circuit and District Courts have local and limited jurisdiction, if you proceed in the High Court and the amount awarded to you by the judge is less than the Circuit Court limit which is €75,000 (€60,000 for personal injury cases) or the District Court limit which is €15,000 you could be penalised by the High Court for the extra costs incurred by not taking your case in the lower court.
You should also be aware that the costs of proceedings are usually awarded to the party that succeeds in the case against the other party(ies).
The practice and procedure of the High Court is regulated mainly by the Rules of the Superior Courts and by Practice Directions issued by the President of the High Court.
The Rules set out how proceedings are started and specify the documents that must be filed, the content of those documents and how they are to be served. The Rules also provide detailed guidance on pre-trial matters such as interim relief, discovery and inspections. These procedures aim to ensure that cases are processed through the system efficiently.
The High Court sits in Dublin to hear original actions. It also hears personal injury and fatal injury actions in several provincial locations, (Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford, Sligo, Dundalk, Kilkenny and Ennis), at specified times during the year (Court Calendar). In addition, the High Court sits in provincial venues to hear appeals from the Circuit Court in civil and family law matters.
The Central Office
High Court proceedings are issued (initiated) in the Central Office of the High Court which is located in the Four Courts in Dublin. Documents can be filed in person, by post, through a document exchange service (DX), or by depositing them in a box provided at the office.
Proceedings in the following types of cases are not issued in the Central Office, but in the relevant High Court offices as listed below:-
Probate motions are dealt with by the Probate Office.
Wardship petitions and motions are dealt with by the Office of Wards of Court.
Bankruptcy summonses and motions are dealt with by the Office of the Examiner of the High Court.
You may issue various types of proceedings in the Central Office, using one of the originating documents listed:-
- Plenary Summons
- Summary Summons
- Special Summons
- Personal Injury Summons
- Originating Notice of Motion
The types of document you use to begin your High Court case depend on the type of action you are bringing.
You will get a case record number when you issue your proceedings. All subsequent documents that are filed in the case (for example, pleadings, motions, affidavits) must have this number marked on them.