Séamus Woulfe sits for first time as Supreme Court judge today

Woulfe will also sit as member of Court of Appeal next month

Supreme Court Judge Séamus Woulfe, who sits on Thursday for the first time as a judge of the country's top court, will also sit as a member of the Court of Appeal next month, The Irish Times has learned.

Mr Justice Woulfe, who was appointed to the Supreme Court last July, will formally sit as a Supreme Court judge on Thursday as part of a three-judge panel to hear "in chambers" applications for permission to appeal a number of cases to the Supreme Court.

The panels hearing such applications do not sit in public and the sitting Mr Justice Woulfe will be involved in will be held in private via video conference, with the judges working separately from their homes or chambers.

Mr Justice Woulfe has been listed as a member of panels on two further dates this month to hear more applications for leave to appeal.


The other two members of the panel on all three occasions are Mr Justice Donal O'Donnell and Mr Justice Peter Charleton.

The Irish Times has learned that Mr Justice Woulfe is also due to sit in March as a member of a three-judge Court of Appeal to hear a number of appeals.

Golfgate controversy

In the wake of his appointment, Mr Justice Woulfe became embroiled in the so-called Golfgate controversy, which led in time to an extraordinary exchange of correspondence between the new judge and Chief Justice Frank Clarke in which the latter expressed his personal view that Mr Justice Woulfe should resign from the court.

Mr Justice Woulfe, for his part, said he did not believe he should resign, but offered that his pay as a Supreme Court judge be given to a charity, for a period of three months, and that he not sit in the court until February.

He also said, inter alia, he would be willing to sit as a High Court judge during the three month period to February in order to assist with any shortage of judges and any delays for litigants in certain lists in that court.

Sources suggest that his sitting on the Court of Appeal is in line with that offer and will provide him with judicial experience in circumstances where he has not previously sat as a judge of any court.

Supreme Court judges occasionally, although not regularly, sit as a member of the Court of Appeal. It is believed Mr Justice Woulfe, when sitting on the Court of Appeal, will sit alongside the president of that court, Mr Justice George Birmingham, who ranks in seniority above an ordinary judge of the Supreme Court.

It remains unclear when Mr Justice Woulfe will sit for his first full hearing of a Supreme Court appeal. Because of his role as a former attorney general, several cases may involve a conflict for him, which would preclude his hearing them.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent