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Woulfe resignation would be ‘disproportionate’ – Denham report
Supreme Court judge Seamus Woulfe Pic: Jason Clarke

01 Oct 2020 / courts Print

Woulfe resignation would be ‘disproportionate’ - Denham

It is being reported that the Denham Report has concluded that the resignation of Supreme Court judge Seamus Woulfe would be a ‘disproportionate’ response as a result of his attendance at a golf dinner in August.

Both the Supreme Court and the board of the Judicial Council met today before the publication of the report.

RTÉ has reported that Mrs Justice Susan Denham found that there were not sufficient grounds to warrant the resignation of Mr Justice Woulfe.

Factors

She has also reportedly concluded that while he erred in deciding to attend the dinner, mitigating factors needed to be taken into account.

Mrs Justice Denham is stated as finding that it was reasonable for the judge to rely on the assurances of the organisers and his own observations in relation to compliance with COVID-19 regulations, RTÉ reports. 

It has been suggested that Mrs Justice Denham’s report finds that Mr Justice Woulfe should not have attended the invitation to the dinner, but that calls for his resignation would be a "disproportionate" response.

A statement from the Courts Service this afternoon says: “The key functions of the Judicial Council include promoting and maintaining public confidence in the judiciary and the administration of justice.

Circumstances

“In light of the exceptional circumstances of the particular situation considered in the review, and given public concern, the Board of the Judicial Council decided to give an indemnity to Ms Justice Denham in respect of her work in carrying out the review in relation to her legal expenses and any litigation which may ensue. 

“While such an indemnity is a standard feature of non-statutory reviews, this also made it possible for this process to be concluded and to enable the board to consider publication of the report.

“The board considers that publication is consistent with its statutory functions and conversely not to publish would have had an adverse impact on these same functions.

“Therefore, the board of the Judicial Council has decided to publish the report.

“The Board has not yet had an opportunity to fully consider all of the appendices to the report. In order to facilitate publication in early course, those which are specifically referred to in the report are included at this juncture, and further appendices will be reviewed with a view to deciding on publication. 

“The board would like to thank Ms Justice Denham for her work in carrying out this review. The Judicial Council intends to implement the recommendations made by Ms Justice Denham in relation to the development of Judicial Conduct and Judicial Ethical Guidelines, and an introductory programme for newly appointed judges at the earliest opportunity. Prior to the receipt of the report, work had commenced by the Judicial Conduct Committee and the Judicial Studies Committee, respectively, in respect of both of those areas.” 

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