First Previous (Chapter 6 Miscellaneous provisions relating to Judicial Conduct Committee and panels of inquiry)

33 2019

JUDICIAL COUNCIL ACT 2019

PART 6

Miscellaneous

Power of Oireachtas to remove judge from office unaffected

89. Nothing in this Act shall be construed as affecting the operation of section 4 of Article 35 of the Constitution.

Personal injuries guidelines

90. (1) Personal injuries guidelines adopted by the Council under section 7 , including any amendments adopted under that section (in this Act referred to as “personal injuries guidelines”) shall contain general guidelines as to the level of damages that may be awarded or assessed in respect of personal injuries and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, the guidelines may include guidance on any or all of the following:

(a) the level of damages for personal injuries generally;

(b) the level of damages for a particular injury or a particular category of injury;

(c) the range of damages to be considered for a particular injury or a particular category of injuries;

(d) where multiple injuries have been suffered by a person, the consideration to be given to the effect of those multiple injuries on the level of damages to be awarded in respect of that person.

(2) The Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee in preparing draft personal injuries guidelines or draft amendments to personal injuries guidelines shall have regard to the matters set out in subsection (3) and the Board, in reviewing those draft guidelines or draft amendments, may have regard to such of the matters set out in that subsection as it considers appropriate for the purposes of its review.

(3) The matters referred to in subsection (2) are:

(a) the level of damages awarded for personal injuries by—

(i) courts in the State, and

(ii) courts in such places outside the State as the Committee or the Board, as the case may be, considers relevant;

(b) principles for the assessment and award of damages for personal injuries determined by the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court;

(c) guidelines relating to the classification of personal injuries;

(d) the need to promote consistency in the level of damages awarded for personal injuries;

(e) such other factors that the Committee or the Board, as the case may be, considers appropriate including factors that may arise from any records, documents or information received, consultations held, research conducted or conferences, seminars or meetings organised (as referred to in section 18 (7)).

Sentencing guidelines

91. (1) Sentencing guidelines to be adopted by the Council under section 7 (in this Act referred to as “sentencing guidelines”) may relate to sentencing generally or to sentences in respect of a particular offence, a particular category of offence or a particular category of offender.

(2) A range of sentences may be specified in sentencing guidelines that it is appropriate for a court to consider before imposing sentence on an offender in the proceedings before it.

(3) The Sentencing Guidelines and Information Committee shall, in preparing draft sentencing guidelines, or draft amendments to sentencing guidelines, for submission to the Board and the Board shall, in reviewing such draft guidelines, or such draft amendments, take account of—

(a) sentences that are imposed by the courts,

(b) the need to promote consistency in sentences imposed by the courts,

(c) the impact of decisions of the courts relating to sentences on the victims of the offences concerned,

(d) the need to promote public confidence in the system of criminal justice,

(e) the financial costs involved in the execution of different types of sentence and the relative effectiveness of them in the prevention of re-offending, and

(f) such factors as the Committee or the Board, as the case may be, considers appropriate relating to the offence concerned and the offender committing the offence for the purpose of specifying a range of sentences referred to in subsection (2).

Courts to have regard to sentencing guidelines

92. A court shall, in imposing a sentence, have regard to sentencing guidelines relevant to the proceedings before it, unless the court is satisfied that to do so would be contrary to the interests of justice and the reasons it is so satisfied shall be stated by the court in its decision.

Independence of court and judicial functions

93. Nothing in this Act shall be construed as operating to interfere with—

(a) the performance by the courts of their functions, or

(b) the exercise by a judge of his or her judicial functions.

Restriction of Freedom of Information Act 2014

94. (1) Without prejudice to the exemption for records held by the courts, the Freedom of Information Act 2014 shall not apply to a record relating to the making or investigation, or the resolution by informal means, of a complaint under Part 5 or an investigation pursuant to a referral under section 59 unless—

(a) the record was created before the making of the complaint or the initiation of the investigation under section 59 , as the case may be, or

(b) the record relates to the expenses of the Judicial Conduct Committee or a member thereof or a panel of inquiry or a member thereof or other matters concerning the general administration of that Committee or a panel of inquiry.

(2) Subsection (1) applies to a record held by—

(a) the Judicial Conduct Committee,

(b) the Registrar,

(c) the Complaints Review Committee,

(d) a designated judge or designated judges,

(e) a panel of inquiry, or

(f) the registrar to a panel of inquiry.

(3) In this section “record” has the meaning it has in the Freedom of Information Act 2014.

Restrictions of rights and obligations under Data Protection Regulation

95. (1) The rights and obligations provided for in Articles 12 to 22 (and Article 5 in so far as its provisions correspond to the rights and obligations provided for in Articles 12 to 22) and Article 34 of the Data Protection Regulation are, in so far as the rights and obligations relate to the processing of personal data by a person or body specified in subsection (2), restricted to the extent necessary and proportionate to enable the person or body perform his, her or its functions under Part 5.

(2) A person or body referred to in subsection (1) means—

(a) the Judicial Conduct Committee,

(b) the Registrar,

(c) the Complaints Review Committee,

(d) a designated judge or designated judges,

(e) a panel of inquiry, or

(f) the registrar to a panel of inquiry.

(3) In this section—

“personal data” has the same meaning as it has in Article 4 of the Data Protection Regulation;

“processing” has the same meaning as it has in Article 4 of the Data Protection Regulation.

Notification to Courts Service of decisions made and actions taken by Council

96. Where a decision made or an action taken by the Council relates to the performance by the Courts Service of its functions, the Council shall notify the Courts Service in writing of the decision or action.

Amendment of Courts Service Act 1998

97. The Courts Service Act 1998 is amended by the insertion of the following section after section 5A:

“Decisions and actions of Judicial Council notified to Service

5B. The Service shall, in the performance of its functions, have regard to the decisions made and actions taken by the Judicial Council notified to it under section 96 of the Judicial Council Act 2019.”.

Amendment of Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003

98. The Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003 is amended—

(a) in section 54(1), by the deletion of paragraphs (b) and (ba), and

(b) in section 54A(1), by the substitution of “paragraph (c), (d)” for “paragraph (b), (ba), (c), (d)”.

Amendment of section 22 of Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004

99. Section 22 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 is amended—

(a) by the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (1):

“(1) The court shall, in assessing damages in a personal injuries action—

(a) have regard to the personal injuries guidelines (within the meaning of section 2 of the Judicial Council Act 2019), and

(b) where it departs from those guidelines, state the reasons for such departure in giving its decision.”,

(b) in subsection (2), by the substitution of “other than those personal injuries guidelines” for “other than the Book of Quantum”, and

(c) by the deletion of subsection (3).