Monday 18 December 2017

‘Economic necessity’ pushes judge into legal fight

Mr Justice Barry White
Mr Justice Barry White

Tim Healy

Retired judge Barry White wants to resume practice as a barrister “due to economic necessity”, the High Court has heard.

However, Mr White says he is prevented from doing so by an unconstitutional Bar Council rule.

Lawyers for Mr White (71) secured leave from Mr Justice Seamus Noonan to bring a judicial review challenge over the rule – which is based on an 85-year-old Supreme Court decision in a 1930 case which prevents retired judges resuming private practice in a court equal to or less than the court of which they were a judge.

Mr White had told the Bar Council that his wish to resume practice was due to “economic necessity”.

He has four children, two at university and two at secondary school, “with all that entails”.

He had to retire when he was 70 after a career in which he presided over many high-profile criminal trials, including that of Eamonn Lillis, convicted of the manslaughter of his wife Celine, and Joe O’Reilly, serving a life sentence for the murder of his wife Rachel. 


Since his retirement, Mr White has had discussions with the Bar Council and the Minister for Justice on his application for a waiver of the rule, but to no avail, John Rogers SC, for Mr White, said.

Mr Justice Noonan said Mr White had an arguable case for judicial review and was entitled to be granted leave. A hearing date will be fixed at a later stage.

It is claimed that application of the disputed rule would mean Mr White would be confined to practicing before the Supreme Court or the new Court of Appeal.

Mr White had offered undertakings to meet the objections arising from the 1930 Supreme Court case, the court heard.

That case concerned a man who was first a solicitor, later a successful barrister and later a judge. He decided, in the “aftermath of revolution”, he would prefer not to continue as a judge and sought re-admission to the solicitors’ profession.

Irish Independent

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