Judicial board meets after barrister withdraws High Court application

Seven vacancies will arise in High Court when Court of Appeal formally established

The Chief Justice  Ms Justice Susan Denham: wrote to the Government  lat year warning that it risked creating a “second-best” judiciary by refusing to ease the financial burden on High Court judges who lived outside Dublin.  Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

The Chief Justice Ms Justice Susan Denham: wrote to the Government lat year warning that it risked creating a “second-best” judiciary by refusing to ease the financial burden on High Court judges who lived outside Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

The body that advises Government on judicial appointments has met to discuss the latest round of High Court vacancies after a senior barrister withdrew his application at the last minute.

The meeting of the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board, which is chaired by the Chief Justice, Ms Justice Susan Denham, was convened to ensure that the late withdrawal would not derail plans to have three High Court nominations signed off by Government next week.

Seven vacancies will arise in the High Court when the Court of Appeal is formally established later this month. Four of those places will be filled by judges promoted from the Circuit Court and Ministers are expected to approve three more names at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting.

The barrister who withdrew applied for a place on the High Court bench this summer. His name appeared on a list of eligible candidates sent to the Minister for Justice in September. The reason for his withdrawal is not clear.

Last year, another applicant for a High Court post pulled out after concluding he could not afford to take the position, prompting the Chief Justice to write to the Government warning that it risked creating a “second-best” judiciary by refusing to ease the financial burden on High Court judges who lived outside Dublin.

It is understood the board was convened yesterday to ensure the withdrawal did not present any obstacle to the nomination process.

The unprecedented changes to the High Court, which will have one-fifth of its judges replaced in one day, are part of a sequence of events linked to the formal establishment of the Court of Appeal, a new institution designed to ease the four-year backlog of cases at the Supreme Court and allow that court to focus on cases of exceptional public importance. A referendum on the creation of the new court was passed with 65 per cent support last year.

Government officials are anxious to enact the legislation that will establish the Court of Appeal before the end of the month.