Friday 15 December 2017

Shortage of judges ‘at breaking point’, says top judge

Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns
Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns

Tim Healy

HIGH Court lists are "at breaking point" because of a shortage of judges, the president of the court said yesterday.

Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said until a number of anticipated new judicial appointments are made he did not have judges available to hear some of the cases in the lists.

"All our lists are at breaking point in terms of demands on made on judges", he said.

Until new appointments are made, the courts "will endeavour to get through the lists" with the available resources, he told lawyers in five cases which were listed for hearing yesterday but which had to be backed up until judges become available.

There have been between two and three vacancies in the High Court for most of the last year.

There were two retirements early last year, a sudden death in August of judge Kevin Feeney, the promotion of two senior judges to the Supreme Court bench and a further three retirements in the last month or so.

New appointments in that time had barely kept pace with the losses and another judge, Michael Hanna, became seriously ill over Christmas and could be out for some time.

It is also understood that there will be at least two more retirements in coming months although sources say it could be as many as four.

The Government must also find ten new judges for the new Court of Civil Appeal approved in last October's referendum to amend the Constitution.

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