Cabinet chooses High Court judge Peter Charleton for Supreme Court post

Vacancy created by retirement of Nial Fennelly

Mr Justice Peter Charleton: appointed to the Supreme Court. File Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Mr Justice Peter Charleton: appointed to the Supreme Court. File Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times


The Government has nominated High Court judge Peter Charleton to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the retirement last month of Mr Justice Nial Fennelly.

A member of the High Court bench since 2006, Mr Justice Charleton has been assigned to commercial cases for the past four years and has written extensively on criminal law.

He also has experience in judicial review and personal injury cases, is an ad hoc judge of the European Court of Human Rights and has been supervisor of the Judicial Researchers’ Office since 2011.

Mr Justice Fennelly retired last month, having served on the Supreme Court since 2000, and has been appointed by Government to lead the commission of inquiry into the taping of telephone calls at Garda stations.

Educated at Trinity College Dublin and King’s Inns, Mr Justice Charleton was called to the Bar in 1979 and took silk in 1995. He is the author of a number books on criminal law and has also published on family and constitutional law, copyright, extradition and judicial review. One of the country’s leading barristers before his appointment as a judge, he worked as counsel for the Morris tribunal into allegations of corruption in the Donegal division of An Garda Síochána.

Mr Justice Charleton has lectured at King’s Inns, Trinity College Dublin, Fordham University in New York and Beijing University of Political Science and Law. He is also chairman of the National Archives advisory council.

The appointment leaves a vacancy on the High Court, which is expected to be further depleted when nine judges are appointed to the new Court of Appeal later this year.

Later this month, the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board will meet to consider applications to fill the High Court vacancy left by the retirement earlier this month of Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill. It may now use the same panel of applicants to choose a replacement for Mr Justice Charleton.

Two more High Court judges - Mr Justice Barry White and Mr Justice Daniel Herbert - are due to retire before October.

The advisory board receives applications for judicial posts and sends Government a list of candidates who meet a set of minimum criteria. However, the board does not rank candidates by merit and the Government is not required to choose from its list, giving ministers wide discretion. Serving judges are not required to apply through the JAAB.