The District Court is a court of local and limited jurisdiction. It derives its powers from the Constitution and from Statute law.
Contract and tort
The District Court can deal with actions in contract, breach of contract, tort and claims for damages unconnected with tort, where the claim does not exceed €15,000. Under Section 17 of the Road Traffic Act, 1961 extraordinary expenses incurred in repairing a road by a road authority can be recovered as a simple contract debt. Arrears of maintenance under Section 20 Family Law Maintenance of Children and Spouses and Children) Act, 1976 can also be recovered in the District Court.
The Court can deal with applications to eject tenants for non-payment of rent where the rent does not exceed €15,000 per annum.
Consumer Credit Act 1995
The Court can deal with claims under this Act which covers hire purchase, credit sale agreements and consumer hire agreements.
Claims for damages for personal injuries must first be made to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB). The Board has the power to authorise the issue of civil proceedings in the District Court. Any such claim to the District Court must be accompanied by the appropriate approval from the Board allowing the case to go to Court.
You can bring an action to recover damages, in respect of a wrong for (i) personal injuries, (ii) personal injuries and damage to property (if both have been caused by the same wrong), or (iii) under section 48 of the Civil Liability Act 1961.
A minor plaintiff (a person under the age of 18) must bring proceedings by his/her ‘next friend’ (usually a parent or guardian). The next friend must sign an authorisation known as the ‘consent of next friend’.
A minor defendant may be sued through his/her next friend or a guardian ad litem if so appointed by the Court.
The Court can also deal with an application to approve a settlement from the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB).
Monetary jurisdiction of the District Court
The District Court cannot deal with claims exceeding €15,000. However, the Court can hear cases in excess of €15,000 if both parties sign a prescribed form of consent either before or at any time during the hearing. A claim cannot be divided into two or more claims. If the claim is more than the jurisdiction of the Court, the claimant may waive the excess over the limit by stating this in the claim.
Relevant orders from the District Court Rules