Mr Justice Kearns warns colleagues over public investigation interference

Four CourtsMr Justice Nicholas Kearns, outgoing president of Ireland’s High Court, has warned his colleagues to avoid making excessive interventions in public investigations.

Speaking on Friday, his final day of the bench, Mr Justice Kearns suggested that successive court interventions had “virtually paralysed” the investigatory process, The Irish Times reports.

He said he had seen cases where interventions had caused more problems than they solved, despite the good intention of the court.

Mr Justice Kearns said judges “should never put themselves in the position of realising, all too late, that a particular decision has opened a Pandora’s box of unintended consequences which, had proper consideration been applied at the relevant time, might have led to a different approach being taken”.

His remarks come against the background of serious legal obstacles to the investigation into the wind-up of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) and the Oireachtas banking inquiry.

A major ruling affecting Irish public investigations is Maguire v. Ardagh 1 I.R. 385, where the Supreme Court found the Oireachtas had “no inherent power” to set up investigations that would damage reputations or rule on facts.

Mr Justice Kearns will be succeeded as president of the High Court by Mr Justice Peter Kelly, nominated by the Government last week.

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