Digital Desk Staff
All judges seeking promotion to higher courts and lawyers seeking elevation to the bench will have to complete special training to be eligible for the posts, in a sweeping overhaul of the rules for judicial appointments.
As The Irish Times reports, the new requirements will be set out in draft laws due soon from Minister for Justice Helen McEntee as part of an effort to improve how the justice system deals with sexual and domestic violence and economic crime.
“Most importantly, it will ensure victims are supported and criminals punished and given appropriate sentences for their crimes,” the Minister said.
She aims to seek Cabinet approval for the proposed legislation early this month with a view to having it complete passage through the Dáil and Seanad by the summer recess. The measures will be cast as the biggest change to the judicial appointments system for 25 years.
In a significant departure from established practice, sitting judges will have to undertake training and continuous professional development programmes to advance to upper courts.
The legislation will state that a new Judicial Appointments Commission “must have regard” to candidates’ professional development when it makes recommendations for court appointments to the Government.
Overhauling judicial rules
Such strictures will also be imposed on lawyers seeking to become judges, meaning they will have to train for the bench in order to seek appointment to it.
That requirement will change current procedures, introduced only in recent years, in which new judges undertake training after their appointment.
Ms McEntee did not table such measures when the Cabinet gave approval in December 2020 for outline laws to overhaul judicial appointments, a contentious area that has often been at the centre of political controversy.
The original proposal included a requirement for the new commission to consider all applicants for judicial office, including sitting judges. But there was no stipulation at the time on training or continuous professional development.
Sitting judges and candidates for the bench have never previously been required to show they had undertaken specific training to be eligible for promotion or judicial appointment.