Launch of public consultation on County Court civil jurisdiction

Date published: 04 February 2021

Justice Minister, Naomi Long, has launched a public consultation on increasing the general civil jurisdiction of the county courts in Northern Ireland.

Picture of Naomi Long

The consultation seeks views on the financial boundaries which govern which court tier hears civil claims, such as for personal injury and breach of contract.

Naomi Long said: “County courts play an important role in the administration of justice for individuals and businesses. I want the system for making civil claims to be as efficient as possible by ensuring that cases are heard in the right court setting, consistent with their complexity and relative value.

This consultation proposes options on the level of increase to the jurisdiction of county court and district judges which would move certain cases from the High Court in the future.

The consultation also seeks views on increasing the jurisdiction of the small claims court, which is designed to quickly bring resolution for citizens involved in lower value cases. I would encourage those who have an interest to take part in this consultation.”

The consultation also seeks views on a number of other issues:

  • Increasing the jurisdiction for defamation cases to £10,000;
  • Whether clinical negligence cases should be reserved as a strictly High Court action or retain the current upper limit of £30,000; and,
  • Whether county court judges should have a statutory power to remove cases from the county courts to the High Courts.

The consultation will run for 12 weeks from xxxxx to 30 April 2021. Further information on this consultation is available on the consultation section of this website and responses can be submitted via the citizen space area on the nidirect website or by email to

Notes to editors: 

  1. The public consultation will run for 12 weeks from 04 February to 30 April 2021.
  2. Further information on this consultation, including the full consultation document and ways to respond, can be found at the consultation section of this website or alternatively on the nidirect CitizenSpace website.
  3. If you require a copy of the consultation in an alternative format please email : or in writing to: Civil Courts & Branch, Department of Justice, Massey House, Stormont Estate, Belfast, BT4 3SX
  4. Media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office via email at:
  5. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours’ service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted out of hours on 028 9037 8110.

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