Court of Criminal Appeal (Ireland)

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The Court of Criminal Appeal (Irish: An Chúirt Achomhairc Choiriúil) was an appellate court for criminal cases in the law of the Republic of Ireland, which existed until 2014, when it was superseded by the Court of Appeal, which can hear appeals for all types of case.


The Court of Criminal Appeal heard appeals for indictable offences tried in the Circuit Court, the Central Criminal Court, and the Special Criminal Court. The Court sat in a division of three, with one Supreme Court judge and two High Court judges.[1]

The court could hear appeals by a defendant against conviction, sentence or both. The Director of Public Prosecutions could also appeal against a sentence on the grounds that it was unduly lenient.[1]

A further appeal to the Supreme Court only lay when the Court of Criminal Appeal itself or the Attorney General certified that a point of law of exceptional public importance needed to be resolved.


Before independence[edit]

The Crown Cases Act 1848 established a Court for Crown Cases Reserved in each of England and Wales and Ireland. These courts were sometimes called the "Court of Criminal Appeal", but only heard point of law appeals.[2][3][4][5] In England and Wales, a Court of Criminal Appeal was established in 1907, but in Ireland the 1848 court remained in operation.[4]

A Court of Criminal Appeal was temporarily established during the Irish Land War by the Prevention of Crime (Ireland) Act, 1882. This comprised the judges of the Supreme Court of Judicature except for the Lord Chancellor of Ireland.[6] The 1882 Act expired after three years.[7][8]

After independence[edit]

The Courts of Justice Act 1924 established a new court system under the terms of the 1922 Constitution of the Irish Free State. These included a new Supreme Court and High Court, and a Court of Criminal Appeal comprising judges of those two courts.[9] The courts were re-established in 1961 under the terms of the current (1937) Constitution.[10] The Court of Criminal Appeal was replaced on 5 November 2014 by the Court of Appeal, as mandated by the 33rd Amendment of the Constitution passed in 2013.[11][12] The Court of Appeal has taken on all hearings of the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Courts-Martial Appeal Court, as well as many backlogged Supreme Court cases.


  1. ^ a b "Court of Criminal Appeal". The Courts. Courts Service of Ireland. Archived from the original on 5 February 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  2. ^ Return of judicial statistics of Ireland, 1863 (part I, police; criminal proceedings; prisons) (part II, common law and equity; civil and canon law). Command papers. Cmd.3418. 1864. p. xxvi. The Court for the consideration of Crown cases reserved, constituted by 11 and 12 Vic, c. 78, corresponds to the Court of Criminal Appeal in England. 
  3. ^ Report from the Select Committee on Westmeath, etc. (unlawful combinations). HC papers. Vol.13 No.147. HMSO. 31 March 1871. p. 156. Retrieved 26 December 2014. Two men arrested, and convicted in 1863, but sentence deferred, awaiting decision of Court of Criminal Appeal 
  4. ^ a b Molony, Thomas F. (1920–1923). "The prevention and punishment of crime". Journal of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland (Dublin) XIV (2): 125. 
  5. ^ Temple, Leofric; Mew, George (1852). "Appendix: statute 11 & 12 Vict. c.78". Reports of Cases, Argued and Determined in the Court of Criminal Appeal: From Michaelmas Term, 1848, to Michaelmas Term, 1851. S. Sweet. p. i. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  6. ^ King, David Bennett (1882). "Appendix L: Prevention of Crime (Ireland) Act, 1882". The Irish Question. London: Forgotten Books. p. 408. 
  7. ^ Dicey, A.V. (2013-10-17). The Law of the Constitution. OUP Oxford. pp. 157, fn.73. ISBN 9780191508967. Retrieved 26 December 2014. 
  8. ^ "The Irish Magistracy and Constabulary under Home Rule". Blackwood's Magazine (Edinburgh) 154: 147. July 1893. 
  9. ^ "The Courts of Justice Act, 1924, Section 8". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  10. ^ "Courts (Establishment and Constitution) Act, 1961". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  11. ^ "Court of Appeal Act 2014". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  12. ^ "Thirty-third Amendment of the Constitution Act, 2013". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 

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