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Act To Facilitate Complaints Regarding Alleged Judicial Misconduct To Commence.

Minister for Justice Mrs Helen McEntee has signed the Judicial Council Act 2019 (Commencement) Order 2022.

The Order brings into operation the remaining provisions of the Judicial Council Act 2019, concerning judicial conduct and ethics.

From today, Monday October 3rd, and for the first time in the history of the Irish State, procedures will be put in place to facilitate complaints about alleged judicial misconduct.

Any complaints about the conduct of a judge that is alleged to constitute judicial misconduct, from that date onwards will be addressed under this new procedures.

Minister McEntee said:

“In a democratic society, the judiciary plays a central and independent role in how justice is administered, and our judiciary have provided us with superb service since the foundation of the State a century ago.

Maintaining and strengthening public confidence in our judiciary, a foundation stone of our democracy, is crucial and I am really pleased to bring into effect all remaining sections of the Judicial Council Act 2019.

These sections deal with judicial conduct and ethics. Crucially, they pave the way for procedures that will facilitate, for the first time in the history of the State, complaints from members of the public about judicial conduct.

They also set out that a complaint may be made by any person who is directly affected by, or who witnessed, the alleged misconduct within three months of same, as well as the criteria for such complaints to be admissible, and the processes under which these complaints will be examined.

I would like to thank the members of the judiciary for their support for this important legislation and to acknowledge the importance of their continued constitutional independence”.

The Judicial Council was established on December 17th, 2019, pursuant to the Judicial Council Act 2019.

Part 5 of the Judicial Council Act concerns the establishment and role of the Judicial Conduct Committee and the newly operative complaints procedure.

While some of those provisions have already been commenced for operational reasons, the bulk of the provisions will be brought into operation from today, October 3rd, 2022.

These include:

  • The circumstances in which a complaint about alleged judicial misconduct can be made to Registrar of the the Judicial Council.
  • A time limit of three months within which a complaint can be made alleging judicial misconduct.
  • A complaint may be made by any person who is directly affected, or who witnessed, the alleged judicial misconduct.
  • The complaint must not be frivolous or vexatious and must also be the case that the conduct could, if substantiated, constitute judicial misconduct.
  • When a complaint is admissible, it is referred to the Judicial Conduct Committee.
  • The circumstances in which a reprimand may be issued to a judge concerned, which could include advice to be issued to the judge concerned, the making of any recommendation that the judge concerned pursue a specific course of action, including attending a course or training of a specified type, and for the issuing of an admonishment to the judge concerned.
  • The Committee may require the judge concerned to report to it regarding his or her compliance with a requirement specified in a reprimand.
  • Allowing for the investigation into alleged judicial misconduct in the absence of a complaint.
  • Allow for investigation by a panel of inquiry to be established by the Judicial Conduct Committee.
  • Setting out the procedures to be followed in the event that a matter relating to the conduct or capacity of a judge requires the referral of the matter to the Minister for the proposal by the Minister of an Article 35.4.1 motion.
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