The Judicial Council Bill (the “Bill”), first introduced back in June 2017, was passed by the Dáil (with amendments) last Thursday, 4 July 2019.The Bill went before the Seanad yesterday for final vote and passed, ending a lengthy progression through the Houses. The Bill will now be sent to the President for signing.
The Bill, once enacted, will establish a Judicial Council which will be independent in the performance of its functions. The purpose of the Bill is described as being “to promote and maintain excellence and high standards of conduct by Judges”. It also provides for the establishment of a Judicial Conduct Committee, which will include lay members, to investigate allegations of judicial misconduct and sets out a detailed complaints process through which complaints about Judges may be received and progressed.
Various amendments have been proposed and made to the Bill during its journey through the Houses of the Oireachtas, including in relation to the question of whether inquiries into allegations of judicial misconduct would be held in public or private. Despite rigorous debate in both Houses, the position in the first iteration of the Bill, which provided for hearings to be held otherwise than in public, remains the position in the finalised Bill, as passed. The finalised Bill however, does provide for proceedings before a Court arising from or connected with a complaint to be held in public, unless the Court directs otherwise in order to safeguard the administration of justice.
In addition, the Bill provides for the establishment of a Sentencing and Guidelines Information Committee. Topically, it also provides that the Council, once established, will have a role in preparing guidelines on the quantum of damages in personal injury actions, through the mechanism of a Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee.
For further information, click here to review our initial blog on the Bill.
To view the Bill, as passed by the Dáil on 4 July 2019, click here.
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