Skip to content


Some practice tools that may be of use in streamlining certain operations…

Preliminary Trial Hearings (PTH)

What is a Preliminary Trial Hearing?

A Preliminary Trial Hearing is a procedure used in criminal cases to streamline trials and allow legal issues to be dealt with prior to a jury being sworn. (Find out more from this Dail Debate on 10 February 2021.) The Criminal Procedure Act 2021, which introduced Preliminary Trial Hearings in this jurisdiction, was commenced on 28 February 2022. Section 6 of the 2021 Act sets out the circumstances where a PTH can be held. Section 6 has 21 sub-sections and 43 sub-sub-sections. 😣

What is required to initiate a Preliminary Trial Hearing?

For practitioners, there were/are rules, procedures and court forms to be grappled with. These new forms (particularly Form 7 – Particulars of Application for Preliminary Trial Hearing) are a handful. Form 7 has 23 different categories of Order that can be sought in a PTH – and any category that is not being sought must be deleted or struck through.

Cases discussing Preliminary Trial Hearings

DPP v Ahmed [2023] IECA 107: While not the principal issue, there was a question as to how much credit (on sentence) should be given to an accused who pleads guilty after a PTH but before a jury is empanelled. The Court of Appeal simply said that the guilty plea ‘was not a particularly ealry plea’.

Bourke v Commissioner of An Garda Síochána [2023] IEHC 606: The Applicant sought to judicially review a decision made in a PTH, and it was held that this was inappropriate as an accused is entitled to appeal the rulings as part of any appeal against the ultimate verdict.

What does this PTH Tool do?

Preparing a PTH application looked time-consuming and error prone, so I automated it to make the process faster and more accurate. I also included some explanatory notes in the automation so that you can quickly produce tailored and error-free PTH Applications, in accordance with S.I. 122/2022 and in line with Form 7 in Appendix DD of the RSC.

Court of Appeal sentencing Database

What is the Court of Appeal Sentencing Database?

The Judicial Council has published a database of 949 Court of Appeal sentencing decisions from 2014 to 2023. It can be accessed here (MS Excel file).

What does this tool do?

The published database was in MS Excel – a format that is a little difficult to interrogate. I took the data and made it available in a format that makes it easier to search and analyse.

Details of how to search and analyse the data, together with a video explainer, are available when you access the database.