The role of the Judicial Conduct Committee is set out in Section 43 of the Judicial Council Act 2019. This Committee is independent in the performance of its functions.
The Committee’s objectives are to promote and maintain high standards of conduct among judges. Those standards have regard to stated principles of judicial conduct which require judges to uphold and exemplify judicial independence, impartiality, integrity, propriety (including the appearance of propriety), competence and diligence and to ensure equality of treatment to all persons before the courts.
It is envisaged that this will be achieved through a number of stated functions:
- Consideration of complaints into the conduct of judges
- Take any necessary action necessary to safeguard the administration of justice
- Prepare guidelines concerning judicial conduct and ethics and draft procedures for the processing of judicial complaints
The Committee is comprised of the following 13 members:
- The Chief Justice and the four Presidents of the Courts (or their respective nominees)
- Three judges elected by all of the judges in Ireland (other than the Chief Justice and the four Presidents)
- Five lay members appointed by Government.
Work of the Committee
The Judicial Council Act provides that the Judicial Council nominate a date for establishment of this Committee at its first meeting. That date must be within six months of the first meeting of the Council. Prior to establishment, work in relation to the recruitment of the lay members of the Committee is ongoing. The appointment of the lay members will be undertaken by the Public Appointments Service for the purpose of recommending suitable persons to Government to be members of the Committee. In addition, an election of the three judicial Committee members will take place.
A similar recruitment process will take place for the recommendation of persons for nomination as lay members of Panels of Inquiry.
It is envisaged that once established later in 2020, the initial work of the Committee will be to prepare guidelines dealing with admissibility of judicial complaints, and codes for conduct and ethics.
It is expected that the relevant sections of the Act dealing with the making and investigation of complaints may be commenced once those guidelines are in place.