Saturday 10 December 2016

Former high-profile judge (71) must return to work due to 'economic necessity', court hears

Aodhan O'Faolain

Published 06/07/2016 | 10:35

Former High Court Judge Barry White, pictured arriving at the Four Courts this week for judgement in a High Court action. Pic: Collins Courts
Former High Court Judge Barry White, pictured arriving at the Four Courts this week for judgement in a High Court action. Pic: Collins Courts

Retired Judge Barry White has claimed he must return to work as a barrister due to 'economic necessity', the High Court has heard.

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Mr White (71), who sat in the Central Criminal Court for more than a decade before his retirement in 2014, has brought the case over an 85-year-old rule which prevents him practising in a court equal to or lower than the one he sat in.

In his case, that means all courts below the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

Mr White jailed wife killers Joe O'Reilly, Brian Kearney and Eamonn Lillis during 12 years in the Central Criminal court as well as presiding over several harrowing rape cases.

Former High Court Judge Barry White, pictured arriving at the Four Courts this week for judgement in a High Court action.Pic: Collins Courts
Former High Court Judge Barry White, pictured arriving at the Four Courts this week for judgement in a High Court action.Pic: Collins Courts

Following his retirement from the bench in 2014, Mr White informed the Bar Council of his wish to resume practise as a barrister due to “economic necessity”.

The court heard that during the national emergency, following the 2008 economic crash, Mr White's salary and pension were significantly reduced.

He held discussions with the Bar Council and Minister for Justice on his application for a waiver of the Bar Council rule so he can resume practise but this was not accepted.

Opening his case yesterday John Rogers SC said the decision breaches Mr White's constitutional rights, including to work and earn a livelihood, something which is "vital to him".

Other grounds included that the rule breaches the Constitution, is anti-competitive and disproportionate.

The Bar Council has no jurisdiction to impose conditions on judges returning to practise and the Minister has no power to enforce such restrictions, it was also argued.

Arising out of the Bar Council's decision, the Minister for Justice has decided Mr White was not regulated and refused to admit him to the criminal legal scheme panel.

Mr White's application is opposed by the defendants.

In its statement of opposition, the Bar Council says the action should be dismissed.

It was argued Mr White, when accepting the nomination to the bench in 2002, was aware of the rule and its consequences.

The rule, contained in the Bar Council's Code of Conduct has legitimate and reasonable objectives.

It is designed to safeguard the integrity, independence and the administration of justice.

The rule, it was further submitted, does not constitute a disproportionate interference with Mr White's rights, including his right to earn a livelihood.

The court heard Mr White has offered a number of undertakings in order to address certain concerns raised by the Bar Council, including that he would not act in cases which he had presided over, not use any confidential information he obtained as a judge, or act in cases where judgements he made were being challenged.

However he rejects any suggestion that judges would favour him or his clients just because he had been a judge himself.

The case continues before Mr Justice Max Barrett.

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