Court of Common Pleas (Ireland)

The Court of Common Pleas was one of the principal courts of common law in Ireland. It was a mirror image of the equivalent court in England. Common Pleas was one of the four courts of justice that gave the Four Courts in Dublin its name.


According to Elrington Ball[1] the Irish Court of Common Pleas, which was known in its early years as the Common Bench or simply the Bench, was fully operational by 1276. It was headed by its Chief Justice (the Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas, as distinct from the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, who was the head of the Irish Court of King's Bench). He had two (occasionally three) justices to assist him. Traditionally its workload was less heavy than that of the Court of King's Bench, and its judges had the reputation, which was probably unjustified, for being less learned than those of the other courts of common law. They were also more likely than their colleagues to be Irish-born, and to be fluent in Irish.[2]

Along with the Irish Court of Exchequer, it moved for a time to Carlow in the fourteenth century, due to the disturbed political conditions in Dublin; but the judges, finding that Carlow was also suffering from political unrest, returned within a few years to Dublin.


Under the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Ireland) 1877, the Court of Common Pleas was merged into the new High Court of Justice in Ireland as one of its constituent divisions; the Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas retained his old rank. After the first decade of its existence it was decided that the High Court could be made to work more efficiently by merging the Common Pleas and Queen's Bench Divisions, and the term Common Pleas fell into disuse.



  • Commissioners of Inquiry into Courts of Justice in Ireland (1819). Fifth report (Court of Common Pleas) with appendix. Sessional papers. Vol.12 5. Retrieved 10 September 2016.


  1. Elrington Ball, The Judges in Ireland 12211921 John Murray, London 1926 Vol.1 p.17
  2. Ball, The Judges in Ireland Vol. 2 pp.79,107
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