Saturday 10 December 2016

New judges 'should do medical' to prove their fitness

Published 21/06/2016 | 02:30

At present, prospective judges simply have to give an undertaking that there is no reason connected with their health which would prevent them from performing their functions. (Getty/Stock)
At present, prospective judges simply have to give an undertaking that there is no reason connected with their health which would prevent them from performing their functions. (Getty/Stock)

New judges should undergo a medical examination before they are appointed to ensure they are physically fit enough for the task.

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The recommendation was made by the body which advises the Government on judicial appointments.

At present, prospective judges simply have to give an undertaking that there is no reason connected with their health which would prevent them from performing their functions.

But the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board recommended that legislation be amended to enable the Justice Minister to require a prospective judge to undergo a medical examination before the appointment is finalised.

Alternatively, medical examinations could be introduced as an administrative requirement, the board said.

The recommendation was previously made as far back as 2002 but was not acted upon by the government of the day.

Board

The board, which is chaired by the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Susan Denham, revealed there was considerable interest from barristers and solicitors in vacancies across the courts last year.

Some 163 applied for three District Court judicial vacancies considered by the board last July.

Another 133 applications were considered by the board for one Circuit Court vacancy last November, while 135 applications were considered for a single vacancy last June.

Two vacancies on the High Court attracted 41 applications, which the board considered last November.

However, just one application was considered for a vacancy on the Supreme Court last July.

The board recommends appointees, but the final decision rests with the Government.

Under the Programme for Government agreed between Fine Gael and Independents, the process is expected to be reformed.

The 12-member board is set to be replaced by a slimmed down judicial appointments commission.

There will be an independent chairperson instead of the Chief Justice. The chairperson will be selected by the Public Appointments Service and approved by an Oireachtas Committee. It is also envisaged the new commission will have a lay majority.

At present, its membership is made up of five judges, the Attorney General, a member of the Bar Council, a member of the Law Society and four others.

Irish Independent

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