The president of the new Court of Appeal has told the court that while justice was the essential requirement, efficiency and justice are complementary and not alternatives.

Opening the court's first sitting today, Mr Justice Sean Ryan said they had no illusions about the scale of the challenges ahead.

He said it was an enormous responsibility, a great honour and a historic moment in the administration of justice.

Mr Justice Ryan said there was a ready-made backlog presenting a formidable challenge.

The new court, established following a referendum last year, comprises nine judges.

It will sit between the High Court and Supreme Court and is designed to ease the backlog in the highest court allowing the Supreme Court to focus on cases of major importance.

The Supreme Court will only hear appeals if it decides that they are matters of exceptional public importance or if it is in the interests of justice that it does so.

Mr Justice Ryan, Mr Justice Peter Kelly and Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan will sit to hear a number of motions relating to cases transferred from the Supreme Court last week.

Last week, more than 250 cases were transferred from the Supreme Court to the Court of Appeal.

The new court was established to reduce the four-year backlog in hearing appeals in the Supreme Court and to allow it to concentrate on the most important, constitutional appeals.