New District Court Rules and Increase of the Monetary Jurisdictions

The changes to the monetary jurisdictions of the District Court and the Circuit Court as set out in the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2013 which was signed into law on 23 July 2013 came into effect on 3 February 2014.

In civil matters, the jurisdiction of the District Court increases to €15,000 and the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court increases to €75,000. In personal injuries cases, the Circuit Court jurisdiction is limited to €60,000.

This means that a lot of debt collection cases will now be processed at District Court level which will lead to a considerably higher volume of work for those courts and the related court offices. It remains to be seen how this will be dealt with and whether it will cause longer back logs.

To coincide with the jurisdiction amendments, the District Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2014 introduce significant changes to the District Court civil procedure including the manner in which the proceedings are being commenced. For the commencement of proceedings the filing for issue and the service of a “Claim Notice” is now required as opposed to the mere service of the “Civil Summons” under the old rules. The Statement of Claim contained in the Claim Notice in debt collection matters now includes far more details as to the unpaid debt and is to list the documents which the creditor intends to rely on to prove his claim.

The new rules also introduce the application of a new scale of costs payable by the unsuccessful party. The costs have increased slightly but remain insufficient to cover the actual costs incurred for pursuing the debt and so the client will not be indemnified by a cost order. Having said that, the new District Court rules set out in Order 53 that the Schedule of Costs must be revised no less frequently than once every three years. This gives scope for adjustments to the current scale of costs awarded once the new procedures have been tested.