The Judicial Council expects to move a step closer this week to approving new conduct and ethical guidelines for judges, the Chief Justice Mr Frank Clarke has signalled.
Commenting on the publication of the Judicial Council’s first Annual Report, the Chief Justice said new ethical guidelines were set to come before the Council’s Board on Thursday.
The new guidelines were drafted by the Council’s Judicial Conduct Committee, which includes five lay members.
The Committee will ultimately investigate and manage complaints about judges and the judicial system.
Mr Justice Clarke said the Conduct Committee has signed off on procedures and sent forward draft ethical guidelines for consideration by the Board and full Council, which involves all judges across the country.
“The Board is due to consider those guidelines at a meeting on Thursday morning and it is hoped that it will be possible to progress towards the final adoption of guidelines and the setting up of the complaints and investigation process thereafter,” the Chief Justice said.
Commenting on the 2020 annual report, the Chief Justice said “very great progress” has been made since the Judicial Council was established as an independent body in December 2019.
The Council’s remit is to ensure public confidence in the judiciary and the administration of justice.
It held its first meeting in February 2020, with 145 judges in attendance, and has already produced guidelines on personal injuries that came into effect in April this year, reducing the size of awards paid out, with a view to bringing insurance costs down.
The Council is also developing training courses for judges and has appointed its first judicial director, Ms Justice Mary Rose Gearty of the High Court, who now devotes half of her time to this new role.
A committee has also been established to review sentencing guidelines.