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Judiciary must live with ‘burdensome personal restrictions’
Chief Justice Donal O’Donnell

04 Feb 2022 / judiciary Print

Judiciary must accept ‘burdensome restrictions’

The country’s judges have adopted guidelines on judicial conduct and ethics at a meeting today (4 February).

A statement from the Judicial Council said that the adoption of the guidelines had been proposed by its chair, Chief Justice Mr Justice Donal O’Donnell (pictured), and seconded by Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly of the Court of Appeal.

The guidelines were drafted by the Judicial Conduct Committee, which is charged with promoting and maintaining high standards of conduct among judges.

Their approval was required before the conduct committee could begin to oversee complaints and investigations relating to the conduct of judges, in June of this year.

Core values

The committee will use the principles when considering whether standards of judicial conduct have been adhered to.

“The guidelines are founded on the core judicial values of independence, impartiality, integrity, equality, propriety, competence and diligence,” the council said.

“They underpin the standards and principles which judges in Ireland have today accepted to manage the ethical and conduct issues which they encounter, and to help the public understand the role of the judiciary and their professional standards.”

Awareness of diversity

The guidelines set out the circumstances in which judges should recuse themselves, while they also include guidance on personal relations with individual members of the legal profession.

“As a subject of constant public scrutiny, a judge must accept personal restrictions that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen,” the document says.

Judges are also advised to “maintain and enhance” the knowledge, skills and personal qualities necessary for the proper performance of their duties, and keep themselves informed about developments in international law.

They are also urged to be aware of diversity in society, and warned not to show “bias or prejudice towards any person or group on irrelevant grounds”.

The Judicial Council has also published the draft procedures by which members of the public will be able to make a complaint alleging judicial misconduct.

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