From top: President of the High Court, Peter Kelly; Master of the High Court Ed Honohan
Yesterday, President of the High Court Peter Kelly signed a direction to remove debt cases from the Master of the High Court Edmund Honohan.
The High Court Practice Direction (HC 84) on summary summonses (debt collection claims), signed by Justice Kelly, states:.
“Pursuant to the provisions of Section 10 of the Courts (Supplemental Provisions) Act 1961 I hereby direct that from Monday 4th February, 2019 all motions seeking liberty to enter final judgment pursuant to Order 37, rule 1 of the Rules of the Superior Courts shall, in lieu of being set down for hearing before the Master of the High Court, be set down for hearing before a Judge of the High Court and shall be listed in a common law motion list on an appropriate Monday.”
The Rules of the Superior Courts were brought into force by Statutory Instrument (SI) 15 of 1986 passed by the Superior Court Rules Committee exercising its powers under Section 36 of the Courts of Justice Act, 1924, Section 68 of the Courts of Justice Act, 1936 (as applied by the Courts (Supplemental Provisions) Act, 1961, section 48), and Section 14 of the Courts (Supplemental Provisions) Act, 1961.
Order 37 Rule 1 of the Rules begins:
“Every summary summons endorsed with a claim (other than for an account) under Order 2 to which an appearance has been entered shall be set down before the Master by the plaintiff, on motion for liberty to enter final judgement for the amount claimed.”
Section 10 of the 1961 Act mentioned in the Practice Direction (see above) and subsection 4 states:
“There shall be exercisable by the President of the High Court all jurisdiction which, by virtue of any enactment which is applied by section 48 of this Act, was, immediately before the operative date, vested in or capable of being exercised by the existing President of the High Court.”
Also, Section 36 of the Courts of Justice Act 1924 states that the Rules
“shall be made or annulled or altered only with the concurrence of a majority of a committee consisting of the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court, the President of the Incorporated Law Society of Ireland, and two practising barristers, of the senior and junior Bar respectively, to be selected by the Council of the Bar of Ireland”
With this in mind, ‘Bewildered Former Devil’ asks:
‘Isn’t the Practice Direction effectively changing the Rules? If so, why isn’t this being done by Statutory Instrument like all other amendments to the Rules to date?
There is nothing I can see in Section 48 (the Courts of Justice Acts and the Courts Officers Acts) allowing the President to unilaterally change the Rules of the Superior Courts.
Also, perhaps the committee indeed have met and sanctioned this change by statutory instrument but then presumably the Master (a current member of the Superior Courts Rules Committee) would have known about it in advance. Mr Honohan said last night on [RTÉ One’s] Prime Time that he didn’t.’
Yesterday: Here Comes The Pane
— Mick Caul (@caulmick) January 25, 2019