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The Judicial System in Iceland

A new court level was introduced in Iceland on 1 January 2018, replacing the former two tiers with a three-tier system. The new court is called the Court of Appeal (Icel. Landsréttur) and is a court of second instance, situated between the District Court and the Supreme Court. The introduction of the Court of Appeal is part of a major restructuring of the Icelandic justice system.

All court actions in Iceland commence in the District Courts (Icel. Héraðsdómstólar), which are eight in number and located around the country.  The conclusion of a District Court can be appealed to the Court of Appeal, provided specific conditions for appeal are satisfied. In special cases, and after receiving the permission of the Supreme Court, it will be possible to refer the conclusion of the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court, which will continue to be the country’s court of highest instance. In most instances, the judgement of the Court of Appeal will be the final resolution in the case. These changes to the judicial system will reinforce the role of the Supreme Court of Iceland in setting precedents in jurisprudence. There are a total of 64 judges in Iceland, 42 of whom preside over the eight District Courts. The Court of Appeal has fifteen judges and the Supreme Court has seven.

Judicial Administration (Icel. Dómstólasýsla), a new public agency, also commenced work on 1 January this year. Judicial Administration will take care of the administrative work of all the courts and represent their interests in dealing with the government, the media and other parties.

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