Monday 19 March 2018

Former judge must disclose information about financial affairs ahead of court hearing

Former judge Barry White
Former judge Barry White

THE High Court has ordered retired Central Criminal Court judge Barry White to disclose certain information about his financial affairs in advance of the hearing of his challenge to a rule preventing him from returning to practice as a barrister.

However, Mr Justice Max Barrett said some of that information should be limited and he also refused to order discovery by Mr White of one category of information relating to his income.

The 71-year-old's action is over a Bar Council rule which prevents him practising in a court equal to or lower than the one he presided over, in this instance all courts below the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

He claims he needs to return to work as a barrister due to financial necessity and because his pension entitlement were insufficient to meet the needs of his family.

Before the hearing next July, the Bar Council sought discovery of documents including those relating to all work undertaken five years before his appointment to the bench and in the five years before his retirement in 2014 to date.

He argued he had already voluntarily supplied sufficient information

Mr Justice Barrett said these were "yet another set of proceedings"

that appear to have sprung from the economic crisis for people in all walks of life.

Mr White had claimed that because of the cut in salary and pension due to the nation's crisis, and faced with rearing a young family, he needs to return to practice, Mr Justice Barrett said.

He ruled Mr White should disclose all records of the nature of work he undertook in the five years before his appointment as a judge (prior to 2002).

However, he said, he hoped the parties would agree that this "fee notes" issued will suffice for this purpose.  o allow for occasional ad hoc work he got,  there should be a threshold of, for example, €20,000, in any one year applied, the judge said.  Work of a lesser value would not be required to be discovered.

He refused discovery of his income for the five years before his appointment saying that as he had already provided his tax returns for this period, to require him to provide more would be oppressive.

He ordered discovery of all documents of alleged loss or damage suffered by him, and steps he took to mitigate that loss.

In relation to documents concerning assets, liabilities, income and expenditure five years prior to his retirement to date, Mr Justice Barrett said this should not be as broad as what was sought by the Bar Council.

As drafted, the category of documents sought would require discovery of "every supermarket and petrol bill" during the relevant period and this would clearly be oppressive, he said.

The court was therefore requiring that all bank statements, other documents of assets, liabilities and expenditure should only relate to items worth more than €1,000.

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