The Government has approved proposals from Minister for Justice Alan Shatter for the appointment of two additional judges to tackle the backlog of cases in the Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeal.

The appointments will be provided for in the Courts Bill 2013, which will be enacted in the coming weeks.

Minister Shatter said proposals were brought forward following recent meetings with the Chief Justice and the Attorney General.

The average delay for new non-priority cases before the Supreme Court is approximately four years.

Earlier this year, Chief Justice Mrs Susan Denham announced the court could not accept any new priority cases.

At the time, there were over 70 cases on the priority list awaiting hearing.

Welcoming the Government decision, Minister Shatter said: "This measure will underpin the ongoing process of court reform which is essential to maintaining our competitiveness and upholding citizens' rights under both the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights."

Mrs Justice Denham also welcomed the decision in principle.

She said it will allow her to "organise two divisions of the Supreme Court to sit more extensively than at present, and also enable a Supreme Court judge to preside in the Court of Criminal Appeal more frequently".