Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Ireland) 1877
|Chapter||40 & 41 Vict. c. 57|
|Royal Assent||14 August 1877|
|Repealing legislation||Judicature (Northern Ireland) Act 1978 (as to Northern Ireland); still in force, as amended, in the Republic of Ireland.|
The Act marked the fusion of the administration of common law and equity in Ireland, although not a merger of the jurisdictions themselves. Prior to the Act coming into force a litigant had to sue in equity in the Irish Chancery and at common law in the common law courts.
Mirroring earlier legislation applying to England and Wales, the Act merged the Court of King's Bench (Ireland), Court of Chancery, Court of Exchequer (Ireland), and Court of Common Pleas (Ireland) into a new High Court of Justice in Ireland ; the earlier courts then became divisions of the new court. The Act also created a new Court of Appeal for Ireland. Amending legislation later abolished all but the King's Bench Division and Chancery Division of the High Court.
Partition and subsequent developments
The "Supreme Court of Judicature in Ireland" that was created by the 1877 Act was abolished by the Government of Ireland Act 1920, s. 38; in its place were established a separate Supreme Court of Judicature for each of Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland, together with an overarching "High Court of Appeal for Ireland" with appellate jurisdiction for the whole of Ireland. The two new Supreme Courts of Judicature were constituted on a similar basis to the court they replaced, with both being made up of a High Court of Justice and a Court of Appeal (ss. 39, 40).
Republic of Ireland
Article 75 of the Constitution of the Irish Free State carried over the existing court structure for Southern Ireland; this included the courts established under the 1920 Act, with the exception of the High Court of Appeal for Ireland, which was abolished by the UK's Irish Free State (Consequential Provisions) Act 1922. Subsequently, the Courts of Justice Act 1924 transferred the jurisdiction of the High Court of Justice to the court of the same name created by that Act, and the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court of Justice. Both these jurisdictions have been continued by subsequent legislation. However, the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Ireland) 1877 has never been repealed in the Republic and thus remains part of its law; the Act was expressly preserved in force by the Statute Law Revision Act 2007.
In Northern Ireland the Act was repealed by the Judicature (Northern Ireland) Act 1978. However, that Act established a new Supreme Court of Judicature that is of largely the same shape as that established under the 1920 Act, although it also includes a Crown Court in Northern Ireland (which tries indictable offences). Since the establishment of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland's Supreme Court has been known as the Court of Judicature in Northern Ireland.
- The short title of the Act as given by s. 1 was "Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Ireland), 1877"; however, the Act is often cited instead as the "Supreme Court of Judicature (Ireland) Act 1877".
- Government of Ireland Act 1920, s. 38
- Courts of Justice Act 1924, s. 17
- Courts of Justice Act 1924, s. 18
- Courts (Establishment and Constitution) Act 1961; Courts (Supplementary Provisions) Act 1961, ss. 7(2)(a) and 8(2)(a).
- Judicature (Northern Ireland) Act 1978, sch. 7.