There was no record of COVID being transmitted in any courtroom or Courts Service workplace last year.
The Courts Service Annual Report notes that more than €5.4m was spent on coronavirus mitigation measures in 2020.
The vast majority was spent on new IT systems (60%) and the upgrading of court buildings (11%).
The report notes that: “Perhaps our greatest achievement in 2020 was that so many cases went ahead and so much work was completed, without any record of COVID-19 being acquired or transmitted in any workplace or courtroom during the year.”
Some 580,000 matters were dealt with by the courts last year according to the report.
For the first time ever there were 2,411 remote court sessions.
There were also 13,326 video links between Irish prison and courtrooms – two and half times more than in 2019.
Courts Service CEO Angela Denning told Newstalk that, while a lot of hearings took place remotely last year, many cases will return to open court when the pandemic is over.
“Not every case is suitable for remote hearing,” she said.
“People prefer to hear witnesses in person and so on but where cases are dealt with on the papers it is not too bad and for short administrative matters it is very, very effective.
“So, the question for the future is what I the correct balance? Those discussions are going on worldwide.”
The report highlights a 15% increase in serious crime cases; however less serious and minor crimes were down on previous years.
It also notes yet another rise in the number of people seeking protection from the courts in cases of domestic violence.
It said domestic violence applications have increased by 65% over the past five years.
Meanwhile, there was a 16% increase in District Court drugs cases last year and a 66% increase in the past four years.
Ms Denning said the figures reflect how the pandemic affected society as a whole:
“The pandemic impacted in some very obvious ways,” she said.
“Licensing was reduced by 70% because pubs, hotels and nightclubs were closed.
“Domestic violence increased as we expected – we had seen the figures increase in China and Italy as the pandemic spread worldwide. We also saw an increase in applications in relation to childcare orders.”
The extended lockdown did not affect access to family law courts, which remained open as part of the 'We're Still Here' campaign.
Main image is a split-screen of a judge's bench and the Chief Justice Frank Clarke.