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28 May 2024

The Single Jurisdiction And Administrative County Court Divisions


Colleagues will be aware that when the single jurisdiction came into force in 2016 the old County Court Divisions were abolished.

While we now have a single jurisdiction there are three Administrative Court Divisions within which there are various courthouses some of which deal with civil business. They are - in Laganside, Antrim, Bishop Street, Omagh, Armagh and Downpatrick.

The Lady Chief Justice’s Direction 5/16 provides that proceedings in the County Court may be commenced or heard in a county court for the administrative court division where:

- the defendant resides or carries on business (in the case of a body corporate where it has its registered office or principal place of business) or

- the cause of action arose

However, in McClenahan v SEE&LB [1999] 3 BNIL 75, HHJ Hart QC held that as county courts exist “to provide a local forum for the resolution of disputes …. save in exceptional circumstances, a case should be heard in the court where the cause of action arose….” .

Therefore, if a solicitor seeks to have proceedings heard other than in an Administrative Court Division where the cause of action arose it is likely that a judge will order that it be transferred to a courthouse in that Administrative Court Division for hearing.

Please note that an application to transfer a case to another court due to “exceptional circumstances” may simply be made in writing without the requirement of a formal application. Colleagues must of course send a copy of the request to the other party.


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