Chief Justice urges judicial council

Ireland’s reputation is being damaged due to the continuing delay in setting up a judicial council which, among other things, would set out a code of conduct for judges, according to Chief Justice Susan Denham.

It is “imperative” such a council be established, she said yesterday, at the start of a new law year.

“The hard-won standard of the administration of justice in Ireland is being affected in terms of reputation internationally due to the long fingering of this much-needed infrastructure,” said Chief Justice Denham.

Noting that almost 15 years had passed since the 2000 report of the committee on judicial conduct and ethics recommended the establishment of a judicial council, she welcomed the priority listing of the Judicial Council Bill in this session of the Oireachtas.

Chief Justice Denham said the committee recommended to the then government in 2000, “and all governments since”, that a judicial council be set up to establish best practice for the education, support, and training of judges; a code of conduct; and a form of complaint structure for people who felt a judge had departed from acknowledged standards of judicial conduct.

She said new court rules and case management systems are part of continuing efforts to combat delays and improve access to justice.

She said she was conscious of the saying “justice delayed is justice denied” and was pleased the new approach and rules allow for speedier access to appeal structures “at the highest level of our legal system”.

Chief Justice Denham said she was mindful of the work of the Supreme Court, the effort which went into dealing with 708 appeals in 2014, and other work to establish new rules and case management systems. She said 236 cases were dealt with by the Supreme Court in the first half of 2015, when the court also published 89 judgments and 24 written determinations.

Litigants in the High Court, she added, can now expect a hearing date for many matters in a timescale ranging from immediately to 16 weeks.


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