Strasbourg, 14 February 2002
CCJE (2003) 7
Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE)
Questionnaire on judges’ training: reply submitted by the delegation of Ireland
Questionnaire on judges’ training
a) Initial Training for prospective judges
I. Are prospective judges given any initial training? If so how long does this last?
No. The concept of prospective judges is not known in this jurisdiction. In contrast to procedures prevailing in some civil law systems, in Ireland judicial appointees may only be drawn from the ranks of practising solicitor and barristers with either ten or twelve years experience of practice depending on the Court to which he or she is appointed. The skills and qualities developed by a lawyer throughout his or her practise prior to appointment are though to constitute excellent training for a new appointee. For example, almost every aspect of a barrister’s task is focused on court and a prime function of a barrister is to understand how a judge would decide an issue or how judges approach facts and law. The tasks of a judge, the elucidation and analysis of facts by application of the rules of evidence and the research, analysis and application of law, are closely related to those of a barrister and the required qualities of detachment and independence are very similar. It is considered that the training and advocacy obtained by successful practise at the Bar is an extremely valuable training and well adapted training for judicial appointment.
A judge who had previously been a solicitor will have benefited from the training and work experience which enables him or her to deal with each side of the case as presented and to decide or resolve a dispute in a just and proper manner. Solicitors, due to their direct dealings with clients, have well developed inter-personal skills which are considered desirable attributes for members of the judiciary. Furthermore they have the requisite significant first-hand experience of work in the Superior Courts. The practical experience gained by solicitors in processing and managing litigation cases from commencement to conclusion is an ideal qualification for appointment as a judge. Finally many solicitor eligible for judicial appointment have already have garnered practical experience in performing quasi-judicial functions, such as membership of the Employment Appeals Tribunal, as Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal, The Garda Complaints Board, the Disciplinary Committee and Tribunal of the High Court and the Law Society’s Compensation Committee. It is also considered that former experience as a practitioner at the law or as a solicitor is of advantage in understanding the process of and difficulties involved in litigation
2. Is the right to or requirement to undergo training stipulated in any law or regulation? If so please specify
3. Is training run and financed by the state or by other means?
Is it free of charge for prospective judges and are the latter paid?
4. Is there a judges’ training institution? If so, is it a permanent public body?
See Answer to b(1) below
5. If there is such an institution, please describe briefly how it is organised, how it operates and who provides the training
No - See B(1) below
6. What subjects does judges’ initial training cover?
See b(1) below
7. Is there an end-of-training examination to assess ability to perform the duties of judge?
b) In-service training
1. Is there an in-service judges’ training scheme?
If so, how is it organised and what subjects are covered?
As a result of s. 16, Court and Court Officers Act, 1995 the Judicial Studies Institute (JSI) was set up by the then Chief Justice, 1996 to provide for the training and for the ongoing education of the judiciary.
The Board of the Judicial Studies Institute consists of the Chief Justice, the Presidents of the High Court, the Circuit Court and the District Court, four members of the Judiciary and the secretary of the Board.
The Board of the Institute meets once per month. During the preparation of conferences/seminars, sub-committees of the Institute are set up to oversee the organisation of same and meet on a regular basis to do so. The Institute organises seminars, conferences and informal sessions on all aspects of judicial work, i.e. new legislation, judge craft, criminal civil and family law and European legislation. Visits to other jurisdictions for comparative purposes are also organised. There is an annual conference for the entire judiciary, as well as annual conferences for each of the jurisdictions which has an average attendance of well over 80%. In addition there are shorter one subject conferences/seminars where for example new legislation is discussed. The Institute also publishes a newsletter and journal.
New judges are supplied with Bench Books on appointment. The Bench Books consist of information on procedural matters and case law and sentencing guidelines.
IT training is provided by the Courts Service, which is the statutory body charged with running the courts and courthouses.
2. Is in-service training optional or compulsory?
Section 19, Courts and Court Officers Act, 1995 provides that candidates for judicial appointment must undertake to the Board ( The Judicial Appointments Advisory Board) to agree if appointed to take any course of training of education as may be required by the Chief Justice of the President of the Court to which the person is appointed.
3. Who runs such training?
The Judicial Studies Institute
4. What approaches are adopted to impress upon judges at the beginning of their careers? If so, please describe it briefly.
It was envisaged by the Report of the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Ethics that the Judicial Studies Institute, which deals with in-service training (see question b(1) below), will be superseded by the Judicial Studies Committee, one of three committees through which the functions of the proposed Judicial Council will be carried out. It seems likely however that due to parliamentary opposition to aspects of the implementing legislation, it will be 2002 before the Judicial Council will be established.
5. Is there a specific training scheme for judges at the beginning of their careers? If so, please describe it briefly.
Yes. The presidents of each of the District and Circuit Courts order the assignment of judges. Bench Books are provided to each judge appointed. The President of the District Court arranges for a new appointee to sit for about a week with an existing judge, in order to observe the correct procedure in that Court. In the Circuit Court, the President of the Circuit Court generally gives a introductory talk to new appointees. This does not apply in the High Court or the Supreme Court.