Wednesday, 27 February 2019
Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017: Committee Stage (Resumed)
Hold on a moment. I would like to make another comment on this. I refer directly to the Government's explanatory memorandum dealing with section 45. It reads, "Section 45 requires the relevant committee, in respect of each name that it recommends for appointment to judicial office, and also in respect of each name of an eligible applicant that it cannot recommend, to provide the Minister with particulars of the person’s education, professional qualifications, experience and character, and where applicable, the results of interviews or tests conducted by the relevant committee." This is quite extraordinary. Details of the judge's education would go back to primary school and secondary school. Where does it go? Who are these people appointed to examine this and to establish the educational background of a possible judge? As to "professional qualifications", if somebody is in the High Court already, presumably he or she has professional qualifications. It is redundant for a group of consultants to reflect on the question of their qualifications. As to "experience and character", will the Minister explain to the House what is meant by the word "character"? This opens the way to character assassination. It would be a most extraordinary situation to have a group of consultants giving a long disposition on the character of a proposed judge, whatever about the results of interviews or tests conducted by the relevant committee. What kind of tests is it going to conducted? Will it be the Rorschach test? Will the Minister comment on this business, particularly on the business of character? Are we assuming that there are justices in existence at the moment of bad or dubious character about whom there are question marks? I just do not know. It seems extraordinary to me.