Tuesday, 15 November 2016
Department of Justice and Equality
131. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 116 of 4 October 2016, her plans to introduce regulations to address the conflicts that can arise through the assignment of judges to districts where they may have worked for many years as a solicitor, in view of the fact that such conflicts will not be prevented by the establishment of a judicial council. [34423/16]
As the Deputy will be aware, the drafting of the Judicial Council Bill which will establish a Judicial Council in order to provide an effective mechanism for dealing with complaints against judges is currently at an advanced stage. There is one aspect of the work of the Judicial Conduct Committee which will be established by virtue of the Judicial Council Bill which may be relevant to the Deputy's concerns. One of the tasks of that Committee will be to draw up guidelines on judicial conduct and ethics which, in turn, will be adopted by the Judicial Council. The norm for such codes is that they would include matters such as guidance in respect of conflicts of interest and other integrity-related matters.
As the Deputy will also be aware, the scheduling of court cases and the allocation of court business is a matter for the respective Presidents of the Courts and the presiding judge who are, under the Constitution, independent in the exercise of their judicial functions. The decision reached in any court case is a matter entirely for the presiding judge. If a person believes that their interests would be affected if a particular judge were to hear and determine the matter in question, then an application to recuse a judge must be made to the judge concerned by, or on behalf of, that person. The decision on recusal is a matter for the judge concerned and, if the applicant is not satisfied with the decision the judge makes, it is possible to appeal any decision of that judge to the appropriate appeal court.