Legal records

FAQ

The type of information required depends on the case in question but the most basic information required includes the date on which the case was heard and the court in which the case was heard. Some cases begin in lower courts and progress through the system on appeal or on transfer, but other more serious cases, such as serious criminal cases or civil suits begin at Circuit Court level.

Court records are not arranged by the name of individuals. They are arranged by the level of court, i.e. District/Circuit/High/Supreme Court, and the date on which the court sat. It is also useful to be aware of changes in the courts system following the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922. For higher level courts, these changes led to alterations in how records were organised. For further information, please see Court records held in the National Archives.

Traditionally, the Courts sit for four terms per year. These are known as Hilary (Winter), Easter (Spring), Trinity (Summer) and Michaelmas (Autumn). According to Order 118 of the Rules of the Superior Courts, these terms correspond to the following dates:

  • Hilary term begins on the 11 January in any given year and ends of the Friday of the week preceding the Easter holiday.
  • Easter term begins on the Monday of the week following the Easter holiday and ends on the Thursday preceding Whit Sunday.
  • Trinity term begins on the Wednesday of the week following Whit Sunday and ends on the 31 July in any given year.
  • Michaelmas term begins on the first Monday in October and ends of the 21 December in any given year.

For further information on court sittings please see the website of the Courts Service.

The National Archives holds records of all levels of courts, except the Special Criminal Court. For details of years and types of records held please see Court records held in the National Archives.

Yes. Court records held by the National Archives are public records and can be accessed by members of the public in possession of a valid Reader’s ticket. The exception to this is family law cases, which are held in camera.

Family law cases held by the National Archives are closed to the public and can only be accessed with the permission of the relevant County Registrar or through the Central Office of the High Court.

For further information on accessing court records please see Researching legal records.

The National Archives is responsible for the permanent preservation of records of state, including court records. Wills are records created by the Probate Office, which forms part of the High Court. This means testamentary material is subject to the terms of the National Archives Act, 1986. The National Archives holds wills that are at least 20 years old. The latest year held by the National Archives is 1991. For anything more recent, queries should be directed to the Probate Office. For further information see Testamentary records.

A plain copy is a copy required for information purposes only and holds no legal standing. A certified copy is accompanied by a letter and seal of authentication issued by the National Archives. Certified copies have legal standing and can be used for legal purposes.

For court records not held by the National Archives it will be necessary to contact the relevant registrar for the court and district in question. For further information see the website of the Courts Service.

Please see Visit us for more information about visiting the National Archives.