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33 2019

JUDICIAL COUNCIL ACT 2019

Chapter 6

Miscellaneous provisions relating to Judicial Conduct Committee and panels of inquiry

Evidence given not admissible in certain proceedings

81. None of the following shall be admissible in evidence against a person in any criminal or other proceedings, except in proceedings for an offence under section 69 (4) against a person:

(a) a statement or admission made by the person to the Judicial Conduct Committee or a panel of inquiry under this Part;

(b) a document given or sent to the Judicial Conduct Committee or a panel of inquiry pursuant to a direction or request from the Judicial Conduct Committee or the panel of inquiry, as the case may be, to the person under this Part.

Conduct of proceedings

82. (1) Subject to this Act, proceedings relating to the investigation of a complaint under this Part shall be conducted otherwise than in public.

(2) Any proceedings before a court arising out of or connected with a complaint, the admissibility of a complaint, an investigation of a complaint under this Part or the determination of such an investigation shall be conducted in public unless the court directs that in order to safeguard the administration of justice the proceedings should be conducted in whole or in part otherwise than in public.

(3) A person (including a member of a panel of inquiry or the Judicial Conduct Committee) shall not disclose or publish any evidence given or the contents of any document produced by a witness while giving evidence to the panel of inquiry or the Judicial Conduct Committee otherwise than in public under this Part, except—

(a) as directed by a court,

(b) in accordance with section 83 , or

(c) to the extent otherwise necessary in the interests of fair procedures and with the consent in writing of the chairperson of the panel of inquiry or the chairperson of the Judicial Conduct Committee, as may be appropriate.

(4) Subsection (3) shall not operate to prohibit the publication in a report under this Act of any findings by a panel of inquiry made on the basis of evidence given otherwise than in public, or the publication in a report under section 87 of information, referred to in subsection (6) or (7) of that section, arising from a determination by the Judicial Conduct Committee made on the basis of evidence given otherwise than in public.

(5) A person who contravenes subsection (3) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a class A fine.

Duty to disclose substance of evidence to other witnesses, etc.

83. (1) Subject to subsection (2), a panel of inquiry shall disclose to a person—

(a) who is directed to attend as a witness before the panel of inquiry,

(b) who attends voluntarily to give evidence to the panel of inquiry, or

(c) about whom evidence is given to the panel of inquiry,

the substance of any evidence in the possession of the panel of inquiry that, in the opinion of the panel of inquiry, the person should be aware of for the purposes of the evidence that the person may give to the panel of inquiry.

(2) Subsection (1) does not require the disclosure of the source of any evidence given or document produced by a witness while giving evidence otherwise than in public under this Part, unless the panel of inquiry considers that, in view of the purposes of the investigation or in the interests of fair procedures, the source should be disclosed.

(3) A panel of inquiry shall give a person to whom it discloses the substance of evidence under subsection (1) an opportunity to comment by written or oral submissions on the evidence.

Privileges and immunities of witnesses

84. A person who gives evidence to a panel of inquiry or the Judicial Conduct Committee, or who produces or sends a document to a panel of inquiry or the Judicial Conduct Committee, as directed by the panel of inquiry or the Judicial Conduct Committee, as the case may be—

(a) has the same immunities and privileges in respect of that evidence or those documents, and

(b) is, in addition to the penalties provided by this Act, subject to the same liabilities,

as a witness in proceedings in the High Court.

Remuneration and expenses of members of Judicial Conduct Committee and panel of inquiry

85. (1) Each ex officio member of the Judicial Conduct Committee and each elected member of the Judicial Conduct Committee shall be paid such allowances for expenses as the Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, may determine.

(2) A member of a panel of inquiry who is a judge shall be paid such allowances for expenses as the Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, may determine.

(3) Each lay member of the Judicial Conduct Committee and each lay member of a panel of inquiry shall be paid such remuneration (if any) and such allowances for expenses as the Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, may determine.

Expenses of witnesses

86. The reasonable expenses (not including legal costs) of a person who attends before a panel of inquiry under section 68 , or a hearing conducted by the Judicial Conduct Committee under section 79 , shall be determined by the Judicial Conduct Committee and paid to the person by the Council out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas.

Annual report of Judicial Conduct Committee

87. (1) The Judicial Conduct Committee shall, not later than 6 months after the end of each financial year of the Council, prepare, and submit to the Council and the Minister, a report in writing of its activities during that year.

(2) If, under subsection (1), the first report under that subsection would relate to a period of less than 6 months, that report shall, notwithstanding that subsection, instead relate to the activities of the Judicial Conduct Committee during that period and the financial year of the Council immediately following that period and the Judicial Conduct Committee shall prepare, and submit to the Council and the Minister, that first report as soon as may be, but not later than 6 months, after the end of that financial year.

(3) The Minister shall, as soon as may be after the receipt by him or her of a report under subsection (1), cause copies thereof to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.

(4) Subject to subsection (5), a report under subsection (1) shall include information on the performance of the functions of the Judicial Conduct Committee during the period to which it relates and, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, shall specify in respect of that period—

(a) the number of complaints received,

(b) the number of complaints determined to be admissible by the Registrar,

(c) the number of complaints considered, and the number of complaints determined to be admissible, by the Complaints Review Committee,

(d) the number of complaints resolved by informal means in accordance with Chapter 4,

(e) the number of investigations initiated pursuant to a referral under section 59 ,

(f) the number of investigations conducted by a panel of inquiry under this Part of complaints or consequent on a referral under section 59 ,

(g) the number of complaints considered by the Judicial Conduct Committee that were not substantiated,

(h) the number of determinations made by the Judicial Conduct Committee under section 71 (5) or 79 ,

(i) the number of judges who consented to the issuing of reprimands to them in accordance with section 58 or 73 , and

(j) the number of complaints that were withdrawn in the circumstances referred to in section 57 or 74 .

(5) Subject to subsection (6), the Judicial Conduct Committee shall not include, or cause to be included, in a report under this section any information that would identify, or could reasonably be expected to identify—

(a) the judge concerned, or

(b) the complainant.

(6) The following information shall be included in a report under this section—

(a) where the Judicial Conduct Committee issues a reprimand to a judge under section 71 or section 79 (2)(b), the name of the judge concerned and the reprimand issued, and

(b) the name of a judge to whom section 79 (13) applies.

(7) The Judicial Conduct Committee shall, as soon as practicable after copies of a report under subsection (1) are laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas under subsection (3), publish the report, or cause the report to be published, in such manner as the Committee considers appropriate.

Costs of legal representation

88. (1) Where a hearing is conducted under section 68 (3) or 79 (3) in relation to a complaint and a determination is made by the Judicial Conduct Committee that the complaint has not been substantiated, the judge concerned may apply to the Committee for the recovery of the reasonable legal costs and expenses associated with his or her legal representation (if any) connected with the hearing.

(2) Where on application to it by the judge concerned under subsection (1), the Judicial Conduct Committee considers that the interests of justice require the payment of the reasonable legal costs and expenses referred to in that subsection, the Committee shall nominate a solicitor, other than a solicitor who was involved in any hearing relating to the complaint concerned, to agree those legal costs and expenses.

(3) In default of agreement under subsection (2), the Judicial Conduct Committee shall—

(a) refer the legal costs and expenses to the Taxing Master of the High Court for taxation, and

(b) nominate a solicitor (which may be the solicitor referred to in subsection (2)) to represent it in such taxation.

(4) The Minister shall be liable to pay to the judge the legal costs and expenses agreed under subsection (2) or taxed under subsection (3), as the case may be.