Introduction To Irish Legal System

Introduction To Irish Legal System

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Introduction To Irish Legal System

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Introduction To Irish Legal System

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Discuss about the Irish Legal System.

Irish legal system fundamentally belonged to Common Law System, which has evolved since centuries (Hazelton Mediation, 2017). Primarily, it had four sources of its origin. This includes the Irish constitution, European Union law, legislation and case law (Holland & Condon, 2014). Particularly, considering the legal system of Ireland, the objectives of the study is initially to present an overview of the development in the legal system of Ireland. In the later part, critical analysis is done by assessing the court structure of Ireland along with its modern legal system and the various sources of law.
Discussion of the Irish Legal System
Brehon Law
Prior to 1922, the Irish legal system was derived from the ‘English Common Law’ and before its adoption ‘Brehon law’, an indigenous legal system was adopted (Cawley, n.d.). This law was very complex, wherein the rights were granted to the citizen of the country based on their social status. On the other hand, punishments were given as per the person’s status, who was offended. This system has been adopted from the Celtic times until 17th century. In the preliminary stage of its adoption, it was not written, but the principles and rules of this system were taught. Later, it was written in the manuscripts however, proper year cannot be specified of its introduction. At the time of its implementation, Ireland was divided into 50 areas approximately and was a tribal society with a clan system, which followed hierarchy system. The notion of equality was not evident in this particular system and the status of people was taken highly into consideration, wherein number of law schools exited in order to spread its rules and principles. In this system, the most fascinating characteristic was that it was self-enforcing according to the status and due to this fact there was no public administration of justice. Then, legal system was well adopted until there were problems faced by the country, which was the result of ‘Norse invasions’. This led to the decline of this system was evident. However, the people of Ireland greatly respected this system and considered it equivalent to their religion. Therefore, bringing about change in the entire system of the country was really difficult and took time (Higgins, 2015).
English Legal System
After the downfall of ‘Brehon Law’, the legal system of Ireland was evolving and from late 12th century, it was mostly governed by the ‘English common law’. With the invasion of Norman in the year 1066, this system was introduced in the country, which was known as the feudal law. It was evident in the history of English people that it was the judges, who had first implemented this system in the country. As the English law system gradually evolved with time, the judges played a significant role in the development and evolution of this system in Ireland, which was also called the ‘common law’. Thereafter, the existence of equity in the country with the adoption of this system helped ‘Lord Chancellor’s department’ to come into effect along with the changes in the court structure as well (Higgins, 2015).
Impact of Independence on its Legal System in the Present Scenario
Irrespective of the fact that there are certain case laws and legislations in its system, which was derived from the system of pre-independence days, as it was a part of ‘United Kingdom of Britain and Ireland’. The enforcement of Article 73 of the constitution of 1922 was also the reason for the similarity in the laws of UK and Ireland in the recent context. However, after its independence in 1922, the leaders of Ireland created a new system similar to that of the UK system but had an exception. This was the adoption and supremacy of the single document of constitution in Ireland (Higgins, 2015; Bodleian Libraries, 2015). There were various reforms established at the time of industrial revolution. Despite all the important reforms, the war of independence, which occurred during 1919-1921, the primary reason, was the suppression of the Irish people by the British. In 1920, the election of local government was won by Sinn Fein, who had taken over the government’s functions such as law enforcement as well as collection of tax. In many places, the court system was replaced by Sinn Fein (The Courts Service, 2014; Dorney, 2012). Therefore, getting independence became the necessity. In the recent context, the system has been compared to the countries such as China and Vietnam. It was observed that the constitutional democracy was at stake recently because of the influence of Ireland’s primitive system, the legal professional independence was also observed to be hampered (Coulter, 2011).
Critical Analysis of the Modern Irish Legal System
The modern Irish legal system has a separate power of tripartite parties namely, legislature, Jurisdiction and Executive. The parliament consist of two houses, Oireachtas and the courts, wherein, the legislative power was exercised by the Oireachtas and the judicial powers by the court based on the Article 34 of its Constitution (Supreme Court, n.d.).
Sources of Law
There are basically four sources of law namely, Irish Constitution of 1937, the Case Law (judicial precedent), European Union and Legislation, which consisted of both primary and secondary. The Irish constitution comprised of primary sources of law, which have a higher status than the domestic laws. It thus encouraged democracy of the country through the separation of power. The legislation provided highest power to the house of Oireachtas. The decisions should comply with the constitution, which includes of both the primary and secondary legislation. The decisions of the judges come under the case law, wherein the advantage of Precedent was evident. The European law was superior to the national law as well as the Constitution, wherein the primary legislation was the treaties (Holland & Condon, 2014).
The Court Structure
The Irish Legal system was operated according to the rules and regulations under the ‘Article 34.1 of the Constitution’. It was stated that justice prevailed in the Courts of law and this court system existed in the jurisdiction of the ‘common law’ as per the following structure:
From the above structure, it can be evident that the court system was broadly divided into two key branches, the criminal side and the civil. Both the branches had their own courts of specialization. The civil courts handled cases that involved disputes of any kind and the criminal courts focused on dealing with the prosecutions that were brought by the state authorities. The superior ones included the Supreme Court, High Court and the Court of Appeal, wherein these courts applied separate rules while taking decisions (Law Library, n.d.). As per a particular jurisdiction to be discussed, High Court exercises its decisions in the civil cases by claiming unlimited damage exceeding €38,092.14 and deal with criminal cases through the ‘Central Criminal Court’ when the appeals are received from the Circuit Court.
Thus, it can be concluded that corresponding to the evidences which described the evolution and development of the Irish legal system, it can be stated that its application had a significant effect even at the recent times. Through the critical analysis of the Brehon law system as the starting of the law system in Ireland to English law system, the impact of its independence was also observed. Furthermore, analyzing the sources of law in the recent context, the court structure was seen to have a systematic and separate power delegated to each and every jurisdiction to avoid inequality in the country and its legal system. However, not only the English law influenced the Irish legal system, but also its native system was taken into consideration.
Bodleian Libraries 2015, Irish legal system: Brief introduction, Irish Law: Legal System, viewed 28 September 2017, .
Cawley, A No Date., ‘An introduction into the Irish legal system’, SCSI, pp. 1-4.
Coulter, C 2011, Legal system ‘could be like China’s’, The Irish Times, viewed 28 September 2017, .
Dorney, J 2012, The Irish war of independence – A brief overview, The Irish Story, viewed 28 September 2017, .
Hazelton Mediation 2017, Irish legal system, Hazelton Mediation, viewed 28 September 2017, .
Higgins, N 2015, ‘The lost legal system: Pre-common law Ireland and the Brehon law’, Maynooth University, pp. 1-11.
Holland, J & Condon, M 2014, The Irish legal system – law notes for legal and accounting students from Holland Condon solicitors, Holland Condon Solicitors Kilkenny Ireland, viewed 28 September 2017, .
Law Library No Date, The courts system, The Bar of Ireland, viewed 28 September 2017, .
Supreme Court No Date, The legal system and the separation of powers, The legal system, viewed 28 September 2017, .
The Courts Service 2014, History of the law, Heritage, viewed 28 September 2017, .

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