Type

Journal Article

Authors

Caroline Shore
Aisling Parkes
Kenneth Burns
Conor O'Mahony

Subjects

Law

Topics
ireland child care ireland qualitative analysis child protection district courts family courts child care act 1991 social workers

Child care proceedings in non-specialist courts: the experience in Ireland (2016)

Abstract It is widely accepted that court proceedings concerning child protection are a particularly sensitive type of court proceedings that warrant a different approach to other types of proceedings. Consequently, the use of specialized family or children’s judges or courts is commonplace across Europe and in common law jurisdictions. By contrast, in Ireland, proceedings under the Child Care Act 1991 are heard in the general courts system by judges who mostly do not specialize in child or family law. In principle, the Act itself and the associated case law accept that the vulnerability of the parties and the sensitivity of the issues involved are such that they need to be singled out for a different approach to other court proceedings. However, it is questionable whether this aspiration has been realized in a system where child care proceedings are mostly heard in a general District Court, using the same judges and the same physical facilities used for proceedings such as minor crime and traffic offences. This article draws on the first major qualitative analysis of professional perspectives on child care proceedings in the Irish District Court. It examines evidence from judges, lawyers, social workers, and guardians ad litem and asks whether non-specialist courts are an appropriate venue for proceedings on an issue as complex and sensitive as child protection, or whether the establishment of specialist family courts with dedicated staff and facilities provides a better solution.
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Full list of authors on original publication

Caroline Shore, Aisling Parkes, Kenneth Burns, Conor O'Mahony

Experts in our system

1
Caroline Shore
University College Cork
Law
Total Publications: 4
 
2
Aisling Parkes
University College Cork
Law
Total Publications: 6
 
3
Kenneth Burns
University College Cork
Total Publications: 56
 
4
Conor O'Mahony
University College Cork
Total Publications: 5