Mr Kelly follows retired colleague Frank Clarke in giving up the job in the UAE after criticism over the country’s human rights record
Former High Court President Peter Kelly has resigned as a judge of the Dubai International Financial Centre courts.
His resignation comes as pressure mounted following the resignation of former Chief Justice Mr Justice Frank Clarke from the same court in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the weekend.
In a statement, Mr Kelly said: “I have decided to resign from the Court of Appeal of the DIFC since, as a private citizen, I do not want this controversy to disrupt my future time in retirement.”
Mr Kelly, who retired as President of the High Court in June 2020 at the age of 70, added in his statement to The Irish Times that he would not be making any further comment.
Both retired judges were among four appointed last Tuesday to the DIFC courts in an online swearing-in ceremony presided over by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, ruler of Dubai and president of the DIFC courts.
Mr Justice Clarke’s resignation came after questions were raised about whether his new position was compatible with his existing role as president of the Law Reform Commission.
The decision of Mr Justice Clarke and Mr Justice Kelly to take up senior roles in a commercial court based on common law in the UAE – a country with a chequered record on human rights – has been criticised by several well-known legal figures in Ireland.
The head of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Liam Herrick, said the appointments were concerning given the pattern of widespread and serious human rights violations in the UAE.
“It is a matter of legitimate concern that two of Ireland’s most senior retired judges were appointed to judicial roles by the UAE government,” he said.
Mr Justice Clarke clarified over the weekend that he had informed the Government via the attorney general, Paul Gallagher SC, about his appointment.
Donncha O’Connell, a professor of law at NUI Galway, said Mr Justice Kelly’s position on the DIFC Courts had become “completely untenable” following the resignation of his colleague.
In a social media post, Prof O’Connell, a former member of the Law Reform Commission, also called for an examination by the Judicial Council about how the controversy arose.
Former government minister and senior counsel, Alex White SC, said the decision of two retired members of the Irish judiciary to take up appointments to the DIFC Courts demonstrated “a major absence of judgment”.
Meanwhile, a retired barrister and human rights campaigner, Bill Shipsey SC who wrote a highly critical article on the appointments last week, said he had texted Mr Justice Clarke to commend him on his “brave and correct decision” to resign.
Labour leader and law lecturer, Ivana Bacik, told the Sunday Independent that she was “flabbergasted” by the two judges taking up the roles in Dubai given both the UAE’s and Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's well-documented abuses of human rights.