Seanad debates

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

 

2:30 pm

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Independent)

I apologise that I was not here earlier. I hope I will not be repeating what other Members may have stated. The Judicial Council Bill has received support right across the House from Senators of every view and outlook. Amendments were facilitated on Committee Stage in order to see the legislation through. We were promised that further amendments would be tabled on Report Stage. The time to be taken to formulate those amendments, which was originally thought to be a week, has extended to more than a month. Will the Leader tell us when it is proposed to take the remaining Stages of the Judicial Council Bill?

Like Senator Leyden, I do not believe judicial guidelines provided for in the Judicial Council Bill will be the be-all and end-all when it comes to how the State deals with compensation culture. As far back as 2004, the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004, which was introduced when I was Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, facilitated the introduction of extensive powers requiring people to swear affidavits, created criminal offences and required solicitors receiving instructions in civil litigation to explain clearly to their clients the implications of exaggerating claims. The courts were given the express power to throw out an entire claim if any part of it was materially exaggerated. That was done in the naive hope that civil litigation would be made more reasonable as a consequence. Perhaps it has become more reasonable as a consequence. At least, that law is in place.

Senator Ó Céidigh tabled a perjury Bill which also received unanimous support in the House, as well as support from the Department of Justice and Equality. I was given to understand Government time would be made available for that Bill in order that it might progress. However, we are now about to have yet another session on the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, for which there is no public demand and which is a solution in search of a problem.

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