Appointments board advertises vacant position at Supreme Court


THE JUDICIAL Appointments Advisory Board has advertised for applicants for the position of Supreme Court judge.

This follows the nomination of Supreme Court judge Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns as president of the High Court to replace Mr Justice Richard Johnson, creating a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Mr Justice Johnson will retire on October 23rd.

The advertisement, published in The Irish Timeson October 9th, stated: “Notice is hereby given that applications are invited from practising barristers and solicitors who are eligible for appointment to the Office of Ordinary Judge of the Supreme Court.

“Those eligible for appointment and who wish to be considered should apply in writing to the Secretary, Judicial Appointments Advisory Board.”

The closing date for receipt of completed application forms is October 29th, six days after the retirement of Mr Justice Johnson and his replacement by Mr Justice Kearns.

The advertisement is only applicable to solicitors and barristers, as existing judges do not have to apply to the advisory board for promotion to a higher court jurisdiction.

The advertisement states that the application forms may be considered for future vacancies that may arise in the Supreme Court during 2009.

Under the 2002 Courts and Court Officers Act, which set up the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board, it draws up a list, in no particular order, of suitable candidates for presentation to the Government, but the Government is not obliged to nominate a person from the list.

While the Government nominates a person, the President formally makes the appointment.

Among those qualified for appointment to the Supreme Court are judges of the High Court, of the Circuit Court of no fewer that two years standing, judges of various European and international courts on which Irish judges do or may sit, and barristers or solicitors of not fewer than 12 years standing.

However, only a person who is not already a judge and who wishes to be considered for appointment to the Supreme Court needs to apply to the advisory board.

The board last advertised for applicants for a position on the Supreme Court in 2006, on the retirement of Mr Justice Brian McCracken. Mr Justice Kearns was then promoted from the High Court.

Only Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman was appointed directly from the bar to the Supreme Court, all its other current members having served either as judges of the High Court or on European or international courts, or both.

Among the leading contenders for appointment to the Supreme Court on this occasion are High Court judges Mr Justice Frank Clarke, who recently chaired the Referendum Commission, and Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill, who chaired the previous Referendum Commission for the 2008 Lisbon Treaty referendum.

However, the Government may opt to go outside the judiciary, as it did in the case of Mr Justice Hardiman.

If so, the position would go to a leading member of the bar, probably someone who has also served in a senior position for the State.