Court of Common Pleas (Ireland)

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The Court of Common Pleas was one of the senior courts of common law in Ireland. It was a mirror image of the equivalent court in England. It was one of the four courts of justice that gave the Four Courts building in Dublin its name.

The Four Courts


According to Elrington Ball[1] the Court, known in its early years as the Common Bench or simply the Bench, was fully operational by 1276, with a Chief Justice and two (occasionally three) justices to assist him. Traditionally its workload was less heavy than the Court of King's Bench, and its judges had the reputation, which was probably unjustified, for being less learned than those of the other court; they were also more likely to be Irish-born.[2]

Along with the Irish Court of Exchequer, it moved for a time to Carlow in the fourteenth century, due to the disturbed political conditions in Dublin but the judges, finding that Carlow was also suffering from political unrest, quickly returned to Dublin.


Under the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Ireland) 1877, the Court of Common Pleas was merged into the new High Court of Justice in Ireland; the Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas retained his old rank. After a decade it was felt that the High Court could be rationalised by merging the Common Pleas and Queen's Bench Divisions, and the term Common Pleas fell out of use.


  1. ^ Elrington Ball, The Judges in Ireland 1221–1921 John Murray, London 1926 Vol.1 p.17
  2. ^ Ball, The Judges in Ireland Vol. 2 pp.79,107