Thursday 18 January 2018

Retired judge Barry White's legal action aimed at allowing him resume practise may be heard in May

Retired judge Barry White
Retired judge Barry White

Mary Carolan

RETIRED High Court judge Barry White's legal action aimed at allowing him resume practise as a barrister in the criminal courts may be heard in May.

Mr White (71) is challenging a Bar Council rule, based on an 85-year-old Supreme court decision, that prevents him practising in a court equal to or lower than the one he presided over. In his case, that means all courts below the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.

He has said he needs to return to practice due to financial necessity.

His pension entitlements are insufficient to meet the needs of his family, including four children in full time education, he said.

His case, against the Bar Council and State, was before Mr Justice Max Barrett today for case management purposes.

The judge said the case concerned the right to work and he believed, despite disagreement between the sides concerning its precise scope, it could be ready for hearing in May.

Earlier, Douglas Clarke BL, for the Bar Council, said it had concerns, despite Mr White's side having withdrawn claims of anti-competitive practices, that the case still involved a claim of restraint on trade which would take some time to address.

John Rogers SC, for Mr White, said his side's amendments to their claim made "abundantly clear" what Mr White's case was.

A reliance on restraint of trade documents was intended to show the Bar Council's rule prevents Mr White engaging with the market and providing legal services, he said.

It would not be necessary to address accounts because the case was wholly founded on Mr White'a assertion he is entitled to resume his law practise so as to earn a livelihood, counsel said.

Mr White had provided a detailed affidavit and exhibits running to some 100 pages arising from the Bar Council's request for details of income and earnings of himself and his spouse, the court heard.

The case is about the right to earn a livelihood and is based on an "issue of principle", Mr Rogers said.

It was not necessary for the Bar Council to treat it as a family law case and "trawl" through the records of Mr White. The Bar Council objected to Mr Rogers' characterisation of its approach.

It was also not opposing Mr White's application to inspect documents used in a review carried out for the Bar Council concerning readmission of former judges to the Law Library, the court heard.

This had to be subject to redaction of personal and confidential information in those and data protection issues.

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