Judicial Council to be established by end of year after landmark bill passed
The proposed Judicial Council is set to be established by the end of the year following the passing of the landmark Judicial Council Bill by the Oireachtas yesterday.
The bill provides for the establishment of a Judicial Council, composed of all members of the judiciary, and will provide for the first time a statutory basis for the appropriate training of judges and for the investigation of complaints against judges.
The Judicial Council will be required to establish a number of committees with responsibility for a range of matters, including a personal injuries guidelines committee which will compile guidelines for appropriate general damages for various types of personal injury, replacing the Book of Quantum.
The legislation also provides for a judicial conduct committee, judicial studies committee, judicial support committee and sentencing guidelines and information committee.
Where a court departs from the sentencing guidelines adopted by the Council, it must explain the reasons for its departure in its decision.
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said: “The proposal for a Judicial Council has been discussed for many years and I am honoured to be the Minister for Justice and Equality that has introduced the legislation for this landmark development.
“This multifaceted bill will help to shape the way in which our judiciary operates at all levels by promoting consistent standards of excellence, preserving the very valuable confidence that the public has in our judiciary and in the administration of justice in this country.
“The bill, which has been developed in collaboration with the judiciary, will underpin the independence of the judiciary which is already enshrined in our Constitution and, is, of course, a critical component in any functioning democracy.”
He added: “The passage of the bill is only a first step in the work which lies ahead. The Government will do everything necessary to ensure that the Council can be established before the end of this year. There will then be an ambitious programme of work to be carried out by the Council itself in order to address the mandate which has been entrusted to it. I have every confidence that this mandate will be carried out with diligence and to the highest standards.”
The minister paid tribute to the contributions of the Chief Justice of Ireland, Mr Justice Frank Clarke, and his predecessor Ms Justice Susan Denham in supporting the creation of a judicial council.