The Minister for Justice, Heather Humphreys TD, joined the Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Frank Clarke, at Green Street Courthouse today to welcome the launch the Judicial Council’s Inaugural Annual Report. Speaking at the event, Minister Humphreys said,
“This inaugural report by the Judicial Council is an historic occasion, over 20 years in the making. This report of the Council’s first full year’s work demonstrates and proves the value of a Judicial Council, which has been anticipated for many years.”
The Annual Report, submitted independently by the Council to the Minister under the Judicial Council Act 2019, details the work of the Council in 2020, its first full year of operation. A number of key milestones were met. The Council held its first meeting on 7 February 2020, with 145 judges in attendance. It also established its Board and Committees alongside appointing the Director of Judicial Studies, training and induction, and began establishing its accommodation and ICT infrastructure.
The Council has played a key role in assisting the Government to implement the Action Plan on Insurance Reform, through the work of its Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee. Commenting on this, Minister Humphreys said,
“I want to commend in particular the Council and the independent work of its Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee in delivering the Personal Injuries Guidelines three months ahead of schedule.
“The commencement of the Personal Injuries Guidelines in April of this year, was a very significant step in meeting the Government’s commitment to make insurance more affordable for consumers, businesses and community groups. Early indications suggest that the Guidelines are already reducing the size of awards which are a major driver of insurance costs.”
The Annual Report also highlights the key milestones that the Council is targeting for 2021, including Guidelines in respect of Judicial Conduct and Ethics and the education and training programme being developed by the Judicial Studies Committee and the Director of Judicial Studies.
Reflecting on what has already been achieved to date, Minister Humphreys looked forward to the continuing role of the Council in the years ahead,
“The ambitious programme of work carried out by the Council, and its Committees, to fulfil their mandate was done so diligently and to the highest standards in 2020. I am confident that the Council will continue to play a crucial role in ensuring the high levels of public confidence in our judiciary and will maintain the high standards of excellence for which our judiciary is renowned the world over.”
Notes to the Editor:
- The Council received funding of €1.750 million in 2021.
- The Judicial Council was formally established as an independent body on 17 December 2019 pursuant to Section 5, Part 2 of the Judicial Council Act 2019. The Council’s objective is to promote and maintain judicial excellence and independence to ensure public confidence in the judiciary and the administration of justice in Ireland. The Council is, subject to the Act, independent in the performance of its functions. Its membership comprises –
(a) the Chief Justice (who is Chair) and the ordinary judges of the Supreme Court;
(b) the President of the Court of Appeal (Vice-Chair) and the ordinary judges of the Court of Appeal;
(c) the President of the High Court and the ordinary judges of the High Court;
(d) the President of the Circuit Court and the ordinary judges and specialist judges of the Circuit Court;
(e) the President of the District Court and the judges of the District Court other than the President of that Court.
- The Judicial Council’s statutory functions are set out in Section 7(1) of the Act as;
- Excellence in the exercise by judges of their judicial functions,
- High standards of conduct among judges, having regard to the principles of judicial conduct requiring judges to uphold and exemplify judicial independence, impartiality, integrity, propriety (including the appearance of propriety), competence and diligence and to ensure equality of treatment to all persons before the courts,
- The effective and efficient use of resources made available to judges for the purposes of the exercise of their functions,
- Continuing education of judges,
- Respect for the independence of the judiciary, and
- Public confidence in the judiciary and the administration of justice.
- In the 2020 Annual Report, the Chief Justice notes a number of key activities and events:
- First meeting of the Judicial Council with 145 Judges in attendance;
- Elections to the Board and the Jurisdictional Support Committees;
- Establishment of the Judicial Studies Committee;
- Appointment of Director of Judicial Studies;
- Remote Judicial training commenced;
- Cross-jurisdictional induction for all new Judges commenced;
- Personal injury guidelines drafted;
- Conduct Committee established; and
- Sentencing Committee established.