Frederick Morris nominated to be next President of the High Court


Mr Justice Frederick R. Morris has been nominated by the Government for appointment by the President to the forthcoming vacancy of President of the High Court.

Mr Justice Declan Costello retires from the position on January 1st.

Mr Justice Morris (68) has been a judge of the High Court since 1990.

Carol Coulter writes: His appointment will be widely welcomed for the depth of experience and administrative ability he will bring to the job.

His appointment comes as no surprise. He is known for legal astuteness and efficiency.

He was born in Mooncoin, Co Kilkenny, in 1929. He was educated in Glenstal Abbey, University College Dublin and the King's Inns. He was called to the Bar in 1959. In 1970 he became a member of the English Bar, Middle Temple.

In 1973 he became a senior counsel and ran a highly successful practice until his appointment to the High Court in 1990, the first judicial appointment made by the then president, Mrs Robinson.

At the Bar he had a reputation for efficiency and hard work. "He could run two or three cases a day and run them all well," said one senior counsel.

"No matter how stretched he was he'd have every case prepared," said another. "He would go home every evening and work."

He is described as having been "a very astute barrister" and had a huge personal injuries practice, with many successes. Like many successful barristers, he took on deserving cases on a pro bono basis, expecting payment only if he won.

One of the best known of these, and one of the longest-running, was Dunne vs Holles Street, where he successfully represented William Dunne, who was brain-damaged at birth and was awarded more than £1 million after an appeal to the Supreme Court and a retrial.

As President of the High Court he will carry a heavy burden of administrative work, and no one doubts that he will be on top of it. He will take on the job at a time of great change for the courts, as the new independent Courts Service comes into operation next year. He is expected to be an enthusiastic proponent of the changes. Politically he is thought to be "middle-of-the-road to conservative", but will always give people a fair hearing and is unfailingly polite.

Married to Valerie Farrell, he has two grown-up daughters, and is devoted to his family. In his days as a barrister, his Fianna Fail associations were well known.