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8 1998



An tSeirbhís Chúirteanna

Establishment day.

3. —The Minister shall by order appoint a day to be the establishment day for the purposes of this Act.

Establishment of Service.

4. —(1) On the establishment day there shall be established a body to be known as An tSeirbhís Chúirteanna or, in the English language, the Courts Service (in this Act referred to as “the Service”) to perform the functions conferred on it by this Act.

(2) The Service shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and power to sue and be sued in its corporate name.

(3) The Service shall, subject to this Act, be independent in the performance of its functions.

Functions of Service.

5. —The functions of the Service shall be to—

(a) manage the courts,

(b) provide support services for the judges,

(c) provide information on the courts system to the public,

(d) provide, manage and maintain court buildings, and

(e) provide facilities for users of the courts.

Powers of Service.

6. —(1) Subject to this Act but notwithstanding any other enactment, the Service may do anything necessary or expedient for enabling it to perform its functions.

(2) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), the Service may—

(a) acquire, hold and dispose of land or an interest in land or rights over or in respect of land, and acquire, hold and dispose of any other property,

(b) enter into contracts and arrangements,

(c) arrange staff training and education,

(d) establish arrangements for consultation with users of the courts,

(e) at the request of the Minister, or on its own initiative, recommend to the Minister appropriate scales of court fees and charges,

(f) make proposals to the Minister in relation to the distribution of jurisdiction and business among the courts and matters of procedure,

(g) provide services to other bodies subject to such conditions, including the payment of fees, as it thinks fit,

(h) with the consent of the Minister, engage consultants and advisers in connection with the performance of its functions,

(i) operate public bank accounts within the meaning of section 18 of the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act, 1866, and

(j) designate court venues.

Strategic plans.

7. —(1) As soon as practicable after the establishment day and within six months before each third anniversary of the establishment day the Service shall prepare and submit to the Minister, for approval by the Minister with or without amendment, a strategic plan for the ensuing three year period.

(2) A strategic plan shall—

(a) comprise the key objectives, outputs and related strategies (including use of resources) of the Service,

(b) be prepared in a form and manner in accordance with any directions issued from time to time by the Minister,

(c) have regard to the need to ensure the most beneficial, effective and efficient use of the resources of the Service, and

(d) have regard to the Government policy on bilingualism and, in particular, to the need to ensure that an adequate number of staff are competent in the Irish language so as to be able to provide service through Irish as well as English.

(3) The Minister shall, as soon as practicable after the strategic plan has been approved, cause a copy of the strategic plan to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.

Annual report and provision of information to Minister.

8. —(1) As soon as practicable, but in any case not later than six months after the end of each period of 12 months commencing on the establishment day or the anniversary of the establishment day, the Service shall report in writing to the Minister on its activities during that 12 month period, and the Minister shall lay a copy of the report before each House of the Oireachtas.

(2) A report under subsection (1) shall include information on the performance of the functions of the Service during the year to which it relates and such other information in such form as the Service thinks fit or the Minister may direct.

(3) The Service shall, if so requested by the Minister, furnish to the Minister such information as the Minister may request relating to—

(a) any matter concerning the policy and activities of the Service generally,

(b) any specific matter or account prepared by it, or

(c) any report specified in subsection (1),

and the information shall be furnished by the Chief Executive acting under the general authority of the Board.

Independence of exercise of judicial functions.

9 .—No function conferred on or power vested in the Service, the Board or the Chief Executive, under this Act shall be exercised so as to interfere with the conduct of that part of the business of the courts required by law to be transacted by or before one or more judges or to impugn the independence of—

(a) a judge in the performance of his or her judicial functions, or

(b) a person other than a judge in the performance of limited functions of a judicial nature conferred on that person by law.

Seal of Service.

10 .—(1) The Service shall, as soon as practicable after its establishment, provide itself with a seal.

(2) The seal of the Service shall be authenticated on any document by the signatures of—

(a) the chairperson of the Board or another member of the Board authorised by it to sign documents under the seal of the Service, and

(b) an officer of the Service designated for that purpose by the Board.

(3) Judicial notice shall be taken of the seal of the Service and every document purporting to be an instrument made by the Service and to be sealed with the seal (purporting to be authenticated in accordance with subsection (2)) of the Service shall be received in evidence and be deemed to be such instrument without proof, unless the contrary is shown.