- Law of the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Irelandhas a common law legal systemwith a written constitution which provides for a parliamentary democracy based on the British parliamentary system albeit with a popularly elected president, representative democracy, a separation of powers, a developed system of constitutional rights and judicial review.
ources of Irish law
The sources of Irish Law reflect Irish history and the various parliaments whose law affected the country down through the ages. Notable omissions from the list include laws passed by the first and second Dáil, and the
Brehon Laws(traditional Celtic laws, the practice of which was only finally wiped out during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland). These latter laws are void of legal significance and are of historical interest only.
"Main article: The
Constitution of Ireland"
The Irish Constitution was enacted by a popular
plebisciteheld on 1 July 1937, and came into force on December 29of the same year. The Constitution is the corner-stone of the Irish legal system and is held to be the source of power exercised by the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government. The Irish Supreme Court and High Court exercise judicial review over all legislation and may strike down laws if they are inconsistent with the constitution. As such the constitution is the truly distinguishing characteristic of the Irish legal system when compared to its English cousin.
Irish Free Statewas created on 6 December 1922the Constitution of the Irish Free Statecarried over all legislation which had applied to the twenty-six counties subject to its consistency with that Constitution. Article 50 of the Constitution of Irelandfulfilled the same task when than latter constitution came into force on 29 December 1937. Thus at no point in newly independent Ireland was it ever intended to start the statute book afresh. Consequently the Irish statute book stretches back some 800 years and includes law passed by the pre-Union English Parliament and by the Parliament of Great Britainapplied to Ireland by "Poynings' Act 1495". As well as Acts of Parliament of United Kingdom of Great Britain and IrelandParliament signed into law between 1 January 1800and 5 December 1922(inclusive) which on their terms applied to Ireland. One of the consequence of this is that laws such as " De donis conditionalibus, 1285" and the "Statute of Frauds, 1695" are still in force.
In the Republic secondary legislation can only be enacted under an authorising statute. The government cannot enact legislation by decree, such as is done by the British government in the form of
Orders in Council. While all secondary legislation are known as statutory instruments, only significant legislative acts — i.e. those which are required to be laid before parliament or which are of general application are numbered as statutory instruments and published by the Stationary Office. Secondary legislation cannot introduce new principles and policies but merely give effect to the principles and policies of the parent Act.
As with any common law system, the Irish courts are bound by the doctrine of
Stare decisisto apply clear precedents set by the higher courts. This extends to the decisions of higher courts made before independence such as decisions made by the House of Lordsand the Irish Court of Appeal.
European Union Law
"Main article: European Communities Act 1972"
The "European Communities Act, 1972", as amended, provides that
Treaties of the European Unionare part of Irish law, along with directly effective measures adopted under those treaties. It also provides that government ministers may adopt statutory instruments in order to implement European Union law and that as an exception to the general rule such statutory instruments have effect as if they were primary legislation.
Under the Constitution, while the state is guided by the generally recognised principles of
international lawthis has been held not to be justiciable. Ireland is a dualiststate and treatiesare not part of its domestic law unless incorporated by the Oireachtas. An example of incorporation is the Refugee Act 1996.
Under the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003, the
European Convention on Human Rightshas direct legal effect in the State. While applications can be made to the European Court of Human Rightsfollowing final judicial decisions, that court is not part of the Irish legal system as such, and nor is the UN Human Rights Committeeor other such bodies.
Legal systems of the world
List of Acts of the Oireachtas
Courts of the Republic of Ireland
** Supreme Court
** High Court
Special Criminal Court
Northern Ireland law
* [http://www.irishstatutebook.ie Irish Statute Book]
* [http://acts.oireachtas.ie/index.html Acts of the Oireachtas in Irish and English]
* [http://www.attorneygeneral.ie Office of the Attorney General of Ireland]
* [http://www.irishlaw.org Irish Law Site at UCC]
* [http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Ireland.htm GlobaLex - Guide to Irish Law, 2005]
* [http://www.llrx.com/features/irish.htm LLRX.com - Guide to Irish Law, 2001]
* [http://www.ucc.ie/law/irlii/index.php The Irish Legal Information Institute]
* [http://www.bailii.org The British and Irish Legal Information Institute]
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