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Passage Of Bill Giving Effect To Major Reforms In How Judges Are Appointed, Welcomed.

Minister for Justice Mrs Helen McEntee TD has welcomed the passage of the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2022 through its final stages in Seanad Éireann.

The Bill, when enacted, will lead to the biggest reform in how judges are appointed in a quarter of a century, through the establishment of a new Judicial Appointments Commission.

The Commission will replace the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board (JAAB) and will recommend persons for appointment as judges by the President on the advice of the Government under the Constitution.

It will also recommend persons for nomination by the Government to international courts outside the State.

Minister McEntee said: “This represents an important step forward in the reform of the judicial appointments process, as committed to in my Justice Plan 2023. The recognised excellence of our judges and judiciary will be further enhanced by the provisions of this Bill, which introduces a new recommendation and appointments process and ensures that judicial selection is conducted in a modern, open and transparent way.  The new legislation will ensure that anyone who wishes to be considered for appointment to judicial office, including serving judges, will apply to the Commission and undergo the same application and interview processes. Furthermore, the establishment of a new, independent Judicial Appointments Commission will ensure that the selection of nominees for judicial office will be through fair and open competition from the widest range of possible candidates. This Bill follows a substantial process of consultations, in particular with the Attorney General, the European Commission and the Chief Justice. It also takes into account key aspects of a comprehensive pre-legislative scrutiny report prepared by an Oireachtas Committee.”

The Chief Justice will chair the Commission, which will comprise of an equal number of lay members and judge members.

In addition, the Bill provides for the following:

  • Three persons will be recommended for a vacancy and an additional two recommendations for a second and additional vacancy (e.g. seven recommendations for three vacancies).
  • Any person who is to be recommended to the Minister should have been interviewed, and therefore the Minister has provided accordingly.
  • The Bill contains a requirement for the Commission to publish a Diversity statement relating to the objective that membership of the judiciary should reflect the diversity of the population as a whole.
  • A provision has also been inserted in the Bill that requirements for judicial appointment will reflect the need for candidates to undergo judicial training or continuous professional development.

Minister McEntee added: “The enactment of this legislation will enable the continued appointment of excellent judges, which are a cornerstone of a strong, independent judiciary This independence is important in ensuring public confidence in the courts to uphold the law. I look forward to working with all members of the Houses of the Oireachtas to bring this legislation to enactment as soon as possible.”

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