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The Republic of Ireland, or Éire, was formed in 1922 and was initially known as the Irish Free State. The present Constitution of Ireland, Bunreacht na hÉireann, was enacted by referendum held in July 1937 and entered into force on December 29, 1937. It superseded the Constitution of the Irish Free State, which was in force between 1922 and 1937. Before 1922, Ireland was part of the United Kingdom and subject to English law, some of which is still in full force and effect. Due to this history, Ireland has retained the common law tradition and its legal materials are housed in Langdell. The six northeastern counties of Ireland: Antrim, Armagh, Derry (also known as Londonderry), Down, Fermanagh, and Tyrone, are collectively known as Northern Ireland, and are still a part of the United Kingdom and governed separately.
Ireland became completely independent from Great Britain in 1948 with the passage of the Republic of Ireland Act 1948. Since 1972, Ireland has been a part of the European Union (formerly the EEC) and is therefore governed by EU law where applicable. For further information see the Research Guide for the European Union.
- Ireland at Washlaw (http://www.washlaw.edu/forint/europe/ireland.html). This site provides Internet links to all official Irish government sites, law schools, and study abroad programs.
- Guide to Irish Law at Globalex (http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Ireland.htm). Published in June 2005, this site is more comprehensive for researching the laws of Ireland online. All governmental sites are featured as well as general inks to Irish law schools, electronic newsletters, books, and journals.
- Irish Law Site by the University College of Cork (http://www.ucc.ie/law/irishlaw/). Also a comprehensive site, this one hosted by an Irish university.
- BAILII (British and Irish Legal Information Institute) (http://www.bailii.org) offers a comprehensive website for Irish and British legal materials.
- Irish Legal History: An Overview and Guide to the Sources by Janet Sinder (2001) (http://www.aallnet.org/products/pub_llj_v93n02/2001_10.pdf ). This 30-page pdf document covers sources for researching Irish legal history from the earliest days to the present.
- Material on these two major database providers is lean. Internet and print sources should be used to supplement the sources on these two databases. Westlaw does provide a specific Irish version at http://www.westlaw.ie, however HLS does not subscribe to this service.
- Cases: Irish Reported and Unreported Cases. Includes the Irish Reports from 1950 to the present; Judgments of the Court of Criminal Appeal (Frewen) from 1950-83; Unreported cases from July 1985 to the present; Supreme Court Digests from 2004 to the present; and Selected High Court Digests from 2005 to the present.
- Treatise: Doing Business in Ireland
- International Arbitration: Mealey’s Litigation Report from 1/93 to the present.
- News sources including the Irish Times from 1/96 to the present.
- TrademarkScan for Ireland.
- Other Subscription Databases. HLS does not subscribe to any of these paid databases.
- Justis.com includes Irish Digests from 1919 to 1999
- Firstlaw.ie provides the full test of all cases from the Superior Courts from 1999 to the present.
- Westlaw.ie contains case digests from 1995 to the present and all cases from the Superior Courts from 1976 to the present. It also includes reported and unreported cases from the Irish Law Times Digests from 1983 to the present
- The Irish Constitution of 1937 (also in print) is the primary source of statutory law in Ireland. It may be, and has been amended, which must be by popular referendum. Notable amendments include the 1972 membership of Ireland into the EU and the 1995 amendment to allow divorce.
- The national legislature, Oireachtas, consists of the Dáil, the Seanad and the President. The Oireachtas passes about 30 to 40 bills each year.
- Pre-1922 Statutes. Such statutes are found in several places. The Irish Statutes, Revised Edition AD 1310-1800 (KDK39 1310a) covers statutes for those years. Statutes from 1801 to 1922 were made in London and can be found in Public General Acts and Measures for the time period. For more information on that work, please consult our research guide on British Statutes. There is also the Statute Rolls of the Parliament of Ireland (KDK39. I204) which starts in the year 1204 and ends in 1537.
- Current Statutes (Post 1922). The statutes, known as the Acts of the Oireachtas, are online in bilingual text at the Oireachtas homepage along with other legislative information such as debates, bills, and reports. This online database is searchable. The Acts of Oireachtas are also at the Irish Attorney General’s webpage. The Irish Statute Book is also fully searchable for the acts from 1922 to 2005.
- Print works include Irish Current Law Statutes Annotated (KDK40. I39) which combines statutes, statutory instruments and case law; and the Acts of the Oreichtas (KDK38.I73), which contains statutes from 1938 to the present and its forerunner Public General Acts Passed by the Oreichtas (KDK38.I73), which includes statutes from 1923 to 1937. There is also a print index available for 1922-1985: Index to the Statutes 1922 to 1982 With Tables and supplements for 1983 to 1985 (KDK44 I55x 1986).
- Secondary or Subordinate Legislation: Statutory Instruments. Government ministers, under powers delegated them through the Acts of the Oireachtas, may pass legislation as well. Some 500 pieces of such legislation are passed yearly. These materials are best viewed at the Irish Statute Book. They may also be found at the BAILII Statutory Instruments site. There is a print index by Richard F. Humphreys, Index to Irish Statutory Instruments (KDK51.H86 1988) which indexes the years from 1922 to 1986. The official print version is Statutory Instruments (KDK50.S73), the last ten years of which is at Langdell with superseded volumes at the Harvard Depository. CAVEAT: There is no easy way to find out whether a piece of subordinate legislation is still in force or has been amended. Humphreys’ three volume set provides help but only up to 1986.
- Reported judgments are published in two leading report series: Irish Reports (KDK63 1894.A2 I75), which runs from 1894 to the present, and Irish Law Reports Monthly (KDK 63 1867.A2.I75), which runs from 1981 to the present. The Irish Reports from 1950 to the present are searchable on LexisNexis.
- Unreported judgments are ones approved and made available for circulation in typescript form. Some of these cases later become reported judgments. To quote O’Malley in Sources of Law, “The fact that a judgment remains unreported does not, of course, mean that it is devoid of legal value. Even today, many important Irish judgments remain unreported.” This is echoed in Butterworths Legal Guide, “in Ireland there has always been considerable reliance on unreported cases.” Unreported judgments from 1985 to the present are searchable on LexisNexis.
- There are also subject-specific reporters such as Judgments of the Court of Criminal Appeal (KDK1750.A52 J82x 1983) which appears in three volumes covering cases from 1924 to 1989. Other such works include Agatha Clancy, Irish Company Law Reports 1963-1993 (KDK502.A52 C62 1996) and Irish Tax Reports (KDK1443.A52 I75x) which includes cases from 1922 to the present.
- Irish Digest (KDK63.1 L39x) is the primary index by subject to the case law of Ireland. Starting in 1894 it is current through 1993 in the following volumes: 1894-1898, 1894-1918, 1919-1928, 1929-1938, 1939-1948, 1949-1958, 1959-1970, 1971-1983, 1984-1988, 1989-1993. There are also several pre-1894 digests for historical use.
- There are indexes of unreported judgments covering the years 1966 to 1989 in three separate volumes: 1966-1975, commonly known as the Green Index (KDK65.2 I53 1990); 1976-1982, commonly known as the Red Index (KDK63.2.I52x 1984); and 1983-1989, commonly known as the Blue Index (KDK65.2.I534x 1991). These indexes only cover unreported judgments from the three highest courts in Ireland: The Supreme Court, The High Court, and the Court of Criminal Appeal.
- The principle website for the Irish court system is here. The three highest courts are the Supreme Court, The High Court, and the Court of Criminal Appeal.
- The Supreme Court, as its name suggests, is the court of final appeal for all matters in Ireland, including constitutional questions. It consists of eight justices, including the chief justice. The president of the High Court is also a member of the Supreme Court, ex officio.
- The High Court, by the constitution, is conferred with “full original jurisdiction in and power to determine all matters and questions whether of law or fact, civil or criminal.” The High Court acts as an appeal court from the Circuit Court in civil matters. It has power to review the decisions of certain tribunals. It may also give rulings on questions of law submitted by the District Court. The High Court consists of the president and 31 ordinary judges. The President of the Circuit Court and the Chief Justice are additional judges of the High Court, ex officio.
- The Court of Criminal Appeal consists of a Judge of the Supreme Court and two Judges of the High Court. It hears appeals from people convicted on indictment in the Circuit or Central Criminal Court where they (the appellant) obtain a certificate from the trial judge that the case is a fit one for appeal.
- The BAILII site has online versions of Irish court decisions, mostly dating from 1998 to the present.
- Current and leading Irish cases can be found at the IRLII (Irish Legal Information Initiative) site.
- Titles of unreported judgments from 1993 to the present are found at the University College of Cork website.
For Internet sites see the Irish Law Site’s listing of law by topic area.
General Legal Research
Web Resources: see section I.B. supra.
Brian Doolan, Principles of Irish Law, 6 th ed. (Gill & Macmillan, 2003), KDK171.D66 2003.
Raymond Byrne and J. Paul McCutcheon, The Irish Legal System, 5th ed. (Butterworths, 2003), KDK171.B97 2003x
David Gwynn Morgan and Gerard Hogan, Administrative Law in Ireland, 3 rd ed. (Round Hall Sweet & Maxwell, 1998), KDK1380.M67 1998x
John Breslin, Banking Law in the Republic of Ireland, 2 nd ed. (Round Hall, 2004), KDK405.B74 2004x
Anne-Marie Mooney, editor, Insolvency Law (Cavendish, 2003), KDK530.I57 200
Conflict of Laws
William Binchy, Irish Conflict of Law (Butterworths, 1988), KDK179 .B56x 198
Michael Forde, Constitutional Law, 2 nd ed. (First Law, 2004), KDK1225.F66x 2004
J.M. Kelly, The Irish Constitution, 4 th ed. (Butterworths, 2003), KDK1225.K44 2003x
Fergus Ryan, Constitutional Law (Round Hall, 2002), KDK1225.R93x 2002
J.P. Casey, Constitutional Law in Ireland, 3 rd ed. (Round Hall, 2000), KDK1225.C37x 2000
Dermot Keogh, The Making of the Irish Constitution 1937 (Mercier Press, 2007), KDK1203 1937 .A29 2007.
Simon P. Haigh, Contract Law in an E-Commerce Age (Round Hall, 2001), KDK370.H35x 2001
Paul McDermott, Contract Law (Butterworths, 2001), KDK370.M34x 2001
Raymond Friel, The Law of Contract, 2 nd ed. (Round Hall, 2000), KDK370.F75x 2000
Robert Clark, Contract Law in Ireland, 4 th ed. (Round Hall, 1998), KDK370.C55 1998
Dermot Cahill, Corporate Finance Law (Round Hall, 2000), KDK502.C34x 2000
T.H. Ellis, Modern Irish Company Law ( Jordans, 2001), KDK502.E435 2001
Catherine McConville, Company Law (Round Hall, 2001), KDK502.M33x 2001
Conor Hanly, An Introduction to Irish Criminal Law 2nd. ed. (Gill & Macmillan, 2006), KDK1750.H36 2006
Sean E. Quinn, Criminal Law in Ireland, 3 rd. (Irish Law Pub., 1998), KDK1750.Q56 1998x
Maura Butler, Criminal Litigation (Oxford University Press, 2007).
Caroline Fennell, The Law of Evidence in Ireland, 2 nd ed. (Butterworths, 2003), KDK1688.F46 2003x
Ruth Cannon and Niall Neligan, Evidence (Thomson, Round Hall, 2002), KDK1688.C36 2002
Henry Comerford and Aengus R.M. Fogarty, Environmental Law: A Glossary and Handbook (Round Hall, 2000), KDK910.A68 C66 2000
Barbara Maguire, Michael F. O’Reilly and Michael S. Roche, Irish Environmental Legislation (Round Hall, 1999), KDK 910.M34x 1999
Hilary Delany, Equity and the Law of Trusts in Ireland, 3 rd ed. (Thomson/Round Hall, 2003), KDK178.D44 2003x
Muriel Walls and David Bergin, eds., Irish Family Legislation Handbook (Family Law, 1999), KDK200.I75x 1999
Alan Joseph Shatter, Family Law, 4 th ed. (Butterworths, 1997), KDK200.S5 1997x
Albert Keating, Equitable Succession Rights (Thomson Round Hall, 2005), KDK360.K424 2005
James C. Brady, Succession Law in Ireland, 2 nd ed. (Butterworths, 1995), KDK360.B7 1995
Robert Clark and Shane Smyth, Intellectual Property Law in Ireland, 2 nd ed. (Tottel Pub., 2005), KDK315.C53x 200
Gernot Biehler, International Law in Practice: An Irish Perspective (Thomson Round Hall, 2005), ILS KZ3410.B524 2005. NOTE: all works on International Law, whatever their jurisdictional base are in the ILS Library.
Landlord Tenant Law
Gabriel Brennan, Landlord and Tenant Law (Oxford U. Press, 2007), KDK222 .L36 2007.
Mental Health Law
Anne-Marie O'Neill, Irish Mental Health Law (First Law, 2005), KDK931 .O54x 2005.
Andrew Lyall, Land Law in Ireland, 2 nd ed. (Round Hall, Sweet & Maxwell, 2000), KDK217.L92 2000
Robert A. Pearce and John Mee, Land Law, 2 nd ed. (Round Hall, 2000), KDK217. P4 2000x
Kieran Corrigan, Revenue Law (Round Hall, 2000), KDK1443.C67x 2000
Irish Tax Treaties (Butterworths, 1998 to the present), ILS K4473.2 I73a. NOTE: All treaties are housed at the ILS Library no matter the jurisdiction.
Bryan M.E. McMahon and William Binchy, Law of Torts, 3 rd ed. (Butterworths, 2000), KDK450.M37 2000x
Eion Quill, Torts in Ireland (Gill & Macmillan, 1999), KDK450.Q55 1999
Additional titles by subject can be found on the online LLRX Irish Guide in Section I.B. supra.
This guide relied heavily on many of the general legal research books and websites herein mentioned.
Prepared by Martin Hollick, March 2007, last updated March 2008.
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