Tuesday 16 January 2018

Ross reform plan on judges welcome

Shane Ross. Photo: Arthur Carron
Shane Ross. Photo: Arthur Carron


In an interview with The Parchment, the magazine of the Dublin Solicitors Bar Association, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, the then head of the Commercial Court, said in 2012 that there should be an independent body to appoint judges. At that time, the judge, who is now President of the High Court, claimed that some people who would have made excellent judges were "passed over" in favour of others who were not so well qualified. "It's purely political in any event," he said with reference to appointments to the Supreme Court.

More recently, Mr Justice Kelly has led the charge in opposition to the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2016, what has been described by solicitors as a forward-looking, inclusive and contemporary approach to reform of the judicial selection system as championed by Shane Ross, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.

However, the High Court President has described the proposed legislation as "ill-conceived, ill-advised" and said that it was being processed with "undue haste". In fact, reform of the judicial selection process in Ireland has been under discussion since 2013, so if anything we would contend that it is beyond time the issue of judicial selection reform was dealt with. The proposed legislation is not a panacea for all ills in the selection process. It still leaves the ultimate decision in the hands of the government of the day, for example, but the selection of judges would no longer be so "purely political" under the proposed legislation and that is to be welcomed.

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