Former judge appointed chairman of banking culture board

Mr Justice John Hedigan will lead the board from January next year

Mr Justice John Hedigan. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Mr Justice John Hedigan. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

Former Court of Appeal judge Mr Justice John Hedigan has been appointed as chairman of the Irish Banking Culture Board (IBCB).

The board is an initiative of the banking industry aiming to rebuild trust in the sector and Mr Justice Hedigan will begin his new role in January next year.

Mr Justice Hedigan will be responsible for establishing the board as well as developing its structure, purpose and initial terms of reference. His salary will be “in the region of €100,000 to €150,000”, a spokeswoman said.

His appointment followed a process led by a panel comprising Dame Colette Bowe, of the Banking Standards Board in the UK, Sir Callum McCarthy, former head of the Financial Services Authority in the UK and Dr Martin McAleese, former member of Seanad Éireann.

Until his recent retirement, Mr Justice Hedigan was a judge of the Court of Appeal. Before that, he was a judge of the High Court between 2007 and 2016. From 1998 until 2007 he was a judge of the European Court of Human Rights.

As a High Court judge, Mr Hedigan presided over the long-running unsuccessful civil jury action for damages by Ian Bailey over the conduct of the Garda investigation into the west Cork murder of French film-maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

He also delivered a number of rulings in relation to legal challenges connected with the Moriarty Tribunal, including the dismissal of an attempt by businessmen Denis O’Brien and Dermot Desmond to prevent Michael McDowell acting as a barrister for the tribunal.

More recently, he ruled that the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland was obliged to assume €90 million in liabilities from the collapse of Setanta Insurance, which prompted anxiety that motorists will be hit with higher premiums.

“This is a challenging but most worthy endeavour,” said Mr Justice Hedigan. “I am greatly looking forward to working with the new board and engaging with all stakeholders, particularly bank customers, in facilitating and encouraging the highest standards of ethical conduct in this vital industry.”

Well qualified

Marion Kelly, programme director of the IBCB establishment office, said Mr Justice Hedigan’s extensive legal experience made him well qualified for his new role.

“John recognises that people’s confidence in the Irish banking sector has been shaken and the creation of this independent board is part of a determined effort by the banks to introduce real and lasting cultural reform, for the benefit of those who matter most – bank customers,” she added.

Ms Kelly is a Bank of Ireland employee who has been seconded to the IBCB establishment board.

The IBCB is being funded by five retail banks: AIB, Bank of Ireland, KBC Bank Ireland, Permanent TSB and Ulster Bank. Once established, membership will be open to the wider banking sector with membership criteria to be determined by the chairman upon his appointment. It’s unclear whether payment differs between the five founding banks.

The organisation won’t act as a lobbying or representative group but will aim to rebuild trust in the sector. A spokeswoman said that while the board was an initiative of the industry, it was an “entirely independent body tasked with holding the banks to account and driving cultural change in banking”.