Ross calls for legal obligation on judges to declare interests


Taoiseach Enda Kenny will consult the Minister for Justice about the possibility of legally obliging members of the judiciary to publicly declare their interests.

He was responding to Independent TD Shane Ross, who called for the legal change when he referred to a hearing earlier this week where a High Court judge excused himself from a case involving CRH because he had shares in the company.

The judge declared his shares in open court in 2010 and afterwards “the discovery was made by the plaintiffs that his advisers – in his words – had bought more shares at a time when the case was proceeding under him”.

The Dublin South TD stressed he was not making any accusations against the judge, who said this was done by his advisers without his knowledge.

But Mr Ross said “it raises serious questions about the regulation of the judiciary and its self-regulation”.

And he said the fact that the judge had to remove himself from the case “constitutes a waste of public money because presumably the case must be held again”.

He asked how it could happen that a judge was allocated a case involving a company he had shares in, “from which he stands to benefit or lose depending on the verdict”.

Other possible cases

The case was a multimillion- euro one and there could be other cases unknown to plaintiffs or the public involving the banks and the National Asset Management Agency where judges might be involved in commercial activities “which are not declared”.

Mr Kenny noted that the Independent TD, while raising a matter of public interest, had been clear that he was not impugning the integrity of any person.

He told the House the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, “is best placed to go beyond mere discussion and see what can actually be done here”.