A new Judicial Appointments Commission is ‘unnecessary’ 

The establishment of a new commission for the appointment of judicial officers is practically “unnecessary” as, according to the Irish Lawyers Council, the existing infrastructure could be “reorganized” to perform the same function.

A submission by the Advocate Council is expected to inform the Oireachtas Judicial Committee on Tuesday that the future new commission would be unnecessarily “costly”.

Other witnesses from the committee include the Law Society on the subject of the new commission, whose draft law was published last December.

From three witnesses – the jurists Dr. Laura Cahillane, Dr. Tom Hickey and Dr. David Kenny – Expected to review recommendations on the bill they made in a statement last month.

These include:

  • That the Attorney General is not eligible for membership in the new commission;
  • Candidates for judicial appointment are required to conduct formal interviews.
  • The candidates, who will be referred to the Justice Minister (who will recommend the appointment), should be brought before a subcommittee of the Cabinet.
  • If the government wishes to appoint someone other than the one recommended by the council, it should make a statement in front of the Oireachtas.

The three are expected to tell the committee that the new commission “could not be more effective than the judicial appointments panel” if the draft law is not adjusted in terms of the eligibility criteria and the evaluation process.

The new bill was accelerated last year by Justice Secretary Helen McEntee – currently on maternity leave – and is seen in response to the excitement surrounding the appointment of former Attorney General Seamus Woulfe to the Supreme Court last summer.

The committee is also headed by Dr. Heard Patrick O’Brien of Oxford Brookes University about his research on the negative systems for the appointment of judicial officers in the UK.

From Dr. O’Brien is expected to inform the hearing that while the new bill does not require the government to nominate names recommended by the new commission, such a move would be “internationally unusual” to create such a body, ” without the need for it Recommendations act as some sort of constraint on the ultimate decision maker. “

Meanwhile, the Law Society is expected to argue that the proposed commission – with four lay members, four judges and the Attorney General – is not “adequately constituted”.

It is expected that “lawyers are best positioned” to offer the perspective necessary for the selection of a judge and to be represented as such on the commission.

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