The Supreme Court

International Relations

International Relations

The Supreme Court engages heavily with other European and international courts and with a number of judicial networks and bodies.

The Supreme Court cooperates with the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) using the preliminary reference system provided for in Article 267 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. This means that if a question regarding the interpretation of EU law arises in a case before the Supreme Court, the Court must refer the issue to the CJEU for clarification.

It is also common for senior courts of countries with a common law legal tradition to refer to judgments of other jurisdictions in which the same or similar issues arise. Such judgments are persuasive rather than binding. Under the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003, courts in Ireland must have regard for the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Outside of these formal legal channels, there is also an increasing level of cooperation between the Supreme Court and other senior courts through:

  • membership with international networks and organisations
  • bilateral meetings/engagement
  • judicial exchange programmes

The Supreme Court cooperates internationally on a multilateral basis because of its membership of several networks and organisations which facilitate cooperation with courts and institutions in other jurisdictions. The areas of law associated with each of these organisations varies but they have in common the aim of providing a forum in which courts of similar jurisdiction can meet to discuss their work, the nature of their functions and the organisation of their systems and to promote dialogue between such courts.

Some organisations of which the Supreme Court and/or the Chief Justice is a member include:

European Union associated:

  • Network of the Presidents of the Supreme Judicial Courts of the European Union
  • Judicial Network of the European Union (operated by the Court of Justice of the European Union)
  • Association of the Councils of State and Supreme Administrative Jurisdictions of the European Union (ACA-Europe)

Council of Europe associated:

  • Venice Commission’s Joint Council on Constitutional Justice
  • World Conference on Constitutional Justice
  • Conference of European Constitutional Courts
  • Superior Courts Network (operated by the European Court of Human Rights)



  • International Association of Supreme Administrative Jurisdictions

The Supreme Court and senior judges have a number of longstanding arrangements with members of the judiciary of certain other jurisdictions under which bilateral meetings are arranged. These provide an opportunity to maintain strong links with judicial colleagues, exchange knowledge and practical experience, and discuss matters of mutual interest.

Most recently, the Supreme Court of Ireland hosted the President and members of the European Court of Human Rights in Dublin for a judicial programme during Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers.

The Supreme Court has been hosting judges on judicial exchanges/internships for many years. These are organised under the auspices of the Network of Presidents of Supreme Judicial Courts of the European Union and ACA-Europe.