When given the task of discussing the sources of law in modern Ireland, two sub-categories always spring to mind. Firstly, the persuasive sources of law which do not always have to be followed. Contrasting with these are the binding sources of law, which are always enforceable. I will focus on and discuss the latter throughout this paper. I will compare and contrast the binding sources of law in the following categories; Common law, European law, Constitutional law, Legislation, Jurisprudence, Custom.
“Sources of law are the legal origins of rules”, in my opinion, the most influential source of law in Ireland today is Common law. Although Brehon law preceded it, Common law is more apparent in our legal system today. Common law
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The Irish court structure is set out in our Constitution. The courts are set out in a hierarchical fashion with the Supreme Court being the Court of Final Appeal for cases . This means that the decisions made by the Supreme Court must be followed by all other courts in the hierarchy such as the High Court, the Circuit Court, and the District Court. The lowest Courts in the hierarchy are the Courts of “limited and local jurisdiction” such as the District Courts, which are Courts of First Instance. The offences dealt with in the District Courts are unarrestable offences. The decisions of the Circuit Court are binding on the District Courts, and the decisions of the High Court are binding on the Circuit Courts etc.
Irish Custom law was called the Brehon Law. With the introduction of Common law, most Brehon laws no longer exist in Ireland today. However some Custom law still remains. Custom is only binding in modern Ireland under two conditions. The custom must be “certain, reasonable and continuous” and “it exists in a particular locality”. This eliminates most outdated laws that are not applicable to modern day Ireland. But there still remains some area of uncertainty due to Brehon law. For example in the case of Gannon v Walsh, there was controversy surrounding who had rights to fisheries in tidal waters.
In conclusion, the binding