Dublin Courts of Justice


The supreme courts of judicature consist of the Chancery, in which the lord-chancellor presides, assisted by the Master of the Rolls, who holds a subordinate court; the King's Bench, which is under the superintendence of a chief justice and three puisne judges; the Common Pleas, under a similar superintendence of four judges; and the Exchequer, which contains two departments, one for the management of the revenue, the other a court both of equity and law, in which a chief baron and three puisne barons preside.

The courts are held in a magnificent structure, commonly called the Four Courts, situated on the north side of the river, having Richmond and Whitworth bridges at its eastern and western extremities; it consists of a central pile, 140 feet square, containing the courts, and two wings, in which are most of the offices connected with the despatch of legal business: these, with the centre, form two quadrangles. The front of the building consists of a boldly projecting central portico of six Corinthian columns on a platform, to which is an ascent by five steps, and supporting a highly enriched cornice surmounted by a triangular pediment, having on the apex a statue of Moses, and at the ends those of Justice and of Mercy. Through this portico is the principal entrance into the great circular hall, opposite to which is a passage to apartments connected with the courts, and on each side are others leading to the two quadrangles. In the intervals between these four passages are the entrances to the four chief courts; the Chancery on the north-west, the King's Bench on the north-east, the Common Pleas on the south-east, and the Exchequer on the south-west.

The Rolls' Court is held in an apartment in the northern part of the central building, between the Courts of Chancery and King's Bench, where also are other apartments used as a law library and a coffee-room. The eastern wing, which forms the northern and eastern sides of one quadrangle, is appropriated to the offices belonging to the Common Pleas and some of those of the Chancery, the remainder of which, with the King's Bench and Exchequer offices, are in the northern and western sides of the other wing. A new building, for a Rolls' Court and a Nisi Prius Court, has been erected between the northern side of the main building and Pill-lane, on a piece of ground purchased for the purpose of isolating the courts, in order to diminish the risk of fire, and to provide additional accommodation for the augmentation of legal proceedings. This stately and sumptuous structure was begun by Mr. Thomas Cooley, architect, and completed by Mr. Gandon, at an expense of about £200,000, and the whole of the sculpture was executed by Mr. Edward Smith, a native artist.

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