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.
Those members are as follows
- The Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Frank Clarke
- The President of the Court of Appeal, Mr. Justice George Birmingham
- The President of the High Court, Ms. Justice Mary Irvine
- The President of the Circuit Court, Ms. Justice Patricia Ryan
- The President of the District Court, Judge Colin Daly
- Mr Justice Charles Meenan
- Judge Martin E. Nolan
- Judge Alan Mitchell,
- Mr. Kieran Coughlan
- Ms. Claire Archbold
- Professor Maeve Conrick
- Mr. Patrick Doyle
- Dr Bernard McCartan.
The Judicial Council Act provides that the Judicial Council nominate a date for establishment of this Committee at its first meeting. That date was fixed as the 30th June 2020 and the first meeting of the Committee took place on the 27th of July 2020.
Work of the Committee
Having been established on 30th June 2020, the initial work of the Committee will be to prepare guidelines dealing with admissibility of judicial complaints, informal resolution of complaints and codes for conduct and ethics.
Complaints about allegations of misconduct by serving judges cannot be made until such time as the relevant sections of the Act dealing with the making and investigation of complaints commenced.
It is expected that those sections of the Act may be commenced once the work is complete and necessary guidelines adopted by the Judicial Council.