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Bill on appointment of judges passes final stages

05 Jul 2023 / judiciary Print

Bill on appointment of judges passes final stages

A bill that sets up a new body to make recommendations on the appointment of judges has passed its final stages in the Seanad.

The Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2022, when enacted, will establish a new Judicial Appointments Commission.

The commission, which will replace the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board (JAAB), will recommend people for appointment as judges by the President on the advice of the Government.

It will also recommend people for nomination by the Government to international courts outside the State.

‘Open and transparent’

Under the bill, the Government can appoint only a person recommended by the commission, though the names of all who applied for a vacancy will also be forwarded to the minister.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said that the bill would introduce a new process to ensure that judicial selection was conducted in “a modern, open and transparent way”.

“The new legislation will ensure that anyone who wishes to be considered for appointment to judicial office − including serving judges − will apply to the commission and undergo the same application and interview processes,” she added.

Judicial members

The Chief Justice will chair the commission, which will comprise an equal number of lay members and judge members.

The other judicial members will be the President of the Court of Appeal, who can be replaced by another court president, and two judges nominated by the Judicial Council.

The minister will appoint four lay members from among people recommended by the Public Appointments Service.

The Attorney General will also be a commission member, but will not have a vote.

Diversity statement

In addition, the bill provides for:

  • Three people will be recommended for a vacancy, and an additional two recommendations for a second and additional vacancy (e.g. seven recommendations for three vacancies),
  • Any person who is to be recommended to the minister should have been interviewed,
  • A requirement for the commission to publish a diversity statement relating to the objective that membership of the judiciary should reflect the diversity of the population as a whole,
  • Requirements for judicial appointment will reflect the need for candidates to undergo judicial training or continuous professional development.

Meanwhile, High Court judge Ms Justice Tara Burns will make her declaration as judge of the Court of Appeal on Thursday 6 July at 4.15pm in the Supreme Court. 

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