Jerry Beades’s court challenge to judge’s nomination is halted

Claim Peter Kelly not eligible for appointment as President of High Court ‘entirely misconceived’

A legal challenge by businessman and anti-eviction activist Jerry Beades (pictured) to the Government’s decision to nominate Mr Justice Peter Kelly as President of the High Court has been halted on all grounds. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

A legal challenge by businessman and anti-eviction activist Jerry Beades (pictured) to the Government’s decision to nominate Mr Justice Peter Kelly as President of the High Court has been halted on all grounds. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

 

A legal challenge by businessman and anti-eviction activist Jerry Beades to the Government’s decision to nominate Mr Justice Peter Kelly as President of the High Court has been halted on all grounds.

Mr Justice Robert Haughton granted a preliminary application by the State to dismiss Mr Beades’ case as bound to fail; disclosing no reasonable cause of action; frivolous and vexatious and/or an abuse of process.

Mr Beades brought the case for an “improper purpose” for motives including to damage the reputation of named judges — particularly Mr Justice Kelly but also Mr Justice Paul Gilligan and Ms Justice Marie Baker — out of “a sense of grievance”, the judge held.

The latter two judges dealt with hearings leading to refusal of injunctions restraining Mr Justice Kelly’s appointment as High Court President last December. A High Court judge since 1996, Mr Justice Kelly was a judge of the Court of Appeal at the time of his appointment.

Mr Justice Haughton said the finding of improper purpose was borne out by Mr Beades’ attempts to “read into the record” his allegations of unsuitability against Mr Justice Kelly, which were “no more than allegations”, and Mr Beades’ statement in court of having alerted the press to his case.

Justice must of course be administered in public but pursuit of publicity by a litigant in furtherance of a cause or grievance “as an end in itself” by instituting or furthering proceedings, and in the conduct of those proceedings, “is altogether another matter and is an improper purpose”.

This particulary applied when the parties who may be damaged are judges who conduct their work largely in public, are not party to the case and, beyond giving reasons for their judgments, not generally in a position to defend the manner in which they perform their judicial function, he said.

After the judgment, the judge granted an application by Michael McDowell SC, for the State, for its costs against Mr Beades who said he intended to appeal to the Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights but not to the Court of Appeal because it had been “contaminated” by Mr Justice Kelly.

Earlier in his judgment, Mr Justice Haughton found Mr Beades had made out no basis on which he could succeed in any of his claims, including his “core” claim the Government failed to consider the relevant law before nominating Mr Justice Kelly.

It was clear from the relevant legislation that Mr Beades’s claim that Mr Justice Kelly was not eligible for appointment as President of the High Court was “entirely misconceived”. Far from not being eligible, he was among a class of serving judges to which the Government must first have regard when deciding nomination.

There was also no basis for Mr Beades’s claim for orders compelling the Government to set up a Judicial Council to regulate the judiciary, the judge said.

It “may well be desirable” there should be a Judicial Council here, he believed most judges would welcome that and the draft heads of a Judicial Council Bill were published “as long ago as 2009”. However, that required legislation which was solely an issue for the Oireachtas and Mr Beades could not pursue it through the courts.

The action was brought against Ireland, the Attorney General, the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board and Minister for Justice and Equality. Mr Justice Kelly was not a party.