Judicial appointments commission

 

Sir, – Concern is raised about lay majority membership of the proposed judicial appointments commission in the Bill proceeding through the Oireachtas (“Senior judges complained they were not consulted on Judicial Appointments Bill”, July 5th). This concern is misplaced.

The Bill currently provides for a commission of 16 members, comprising five judges, the Attorney General, a practising barrister, a practising solicitor, a lay chair, a member who is a lay person and a member of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, and six lay persons.

While the latest report by the Council of Europe Group of States against Corruption states that the Bill “needs to reflect European standards, aiming at securing judicial independence through substantial judicial representation”, the proposed composition of the commission is not incompatible with ensuring such representation.

Indeed, because of the risk that lay members may defer unduly to senior legal and judicial members on appointments panels some jurisdictions have either equal representation of lay and legal/judicial members (as in Scotland) or a majority of lay members (as in Ontario, Canada).

Some have a lay chair (as in Scotland and England and Wales).

Judicial and legal majority or judicial chairing are not inalienable requirements for such panels. – Yours, etc,

DERMOT FEENAN,

Associate Research Fellow,

Institute of Advanced

Legal Studies,

University of London.