The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter TD, today announced a consultations process on the system of judicial appointments.
Speaking today, Minister Shatter said "The enhancement of the current system of judicial appointments is something which I have been considering for a while now. I would like to encourage public debate on elements of reform that should be considered in the public interest with regard to how we go about appointing judges".
Judges are appointed to office by the President on the advice of the Government. The current process for the appointment of judges in Ireland is set out in the Courts and Court Officers Act 1995, sections 12 to 17, which established the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board (JAAB).
The Minister continued "While the JAAB process was a model of best practice in its day, it seems to me that it would be worthwhile now to review the operation of the judicial appointments system to ensure it reflects current best practice, that it is open, transparent and accountable and that it promotes diversity."
Submissions are encouraged to address issues such as the appointment process, eligibility criteria, how to promote diversity and equality and the role of the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board. Any changes advocated must be capable of implementation within the current relevant provisions of the Constitution.
The closing date for receipt of submissions is Friday 31 January 2014
Note for Editors
Existing procedures for appointment as a judge:
Under the Constitution, judges are appointed by the President of Ireland acting on the advice of the Government.
Under the existing system of appointment the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board (JAAB) submits to the Minister for Justice and Equality the names of the persons who have applied for judicial appointment and whom it recommends for appointment. The Minister then brings the names to Government, which in turn submits its advice to the President.
The JAAB was established pursuant to the Courts and Court Officers Act 1995, for the purpose of identifying persons and informing the Government of the suitability of those persons for appointment as judges. The procedures do not apply where the Government proposes to advise the President to appoint a serving judge to another court.
A background note setting out the existing procedures for judicial appointments and the areas which the Minister would like addressed in any submission is available online at www.justice.ie
The Minister would welcome views on how the judicial appointments process might be enhanced, both generally and specifically in relation to the following:
§ Eligibility for appointment;
§ The need to ensure and protect the principle of judicial independence;
§ Promoting equality and diversity;
§ The role of the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board, including its membership and its procedures.
Further information in respect of the appointment of judges is set out in Article 35 of the Constitution of Ireland and in Part IV of the Courts and Courts Officers Act 1995. You will find information on the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board at the website www.jaab.ie
6 December 2013