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33 2019

JUDICIAL COUNCIL ACT 2019

PART 4

Staff, Funding and Accountability of Council

Secretary to Council

32. (1) The Board shall appoint a person to be the Secretary to the Council (in this Act referred to as the “Secretary”).

(2) The Secretary may be removed or suspended from office by the Board for stated reasons.

(3) The Secretary shall hold office under a written contract of service (which contract may, at the discretion of the Board, be renewed) for such period as is specified in the contract and subject to such terms and conditions (including terms and conditions relating to remuneration, allowances for expenses and superannuation) as are so specified, as may be determined by the Board with the approval of the Minister and the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

(4) The Secretary shall not be a member of the Council, the Board or a committee but he or she may, in accordance with procedures specified by the Council, the Board or a committee other than the Judicial Conduct Committee, attend meetings of the Council, the Board or the committee concerned, as the case may be, and shall be entitled to speak and give advice at such meetings.

(5) The Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004 shall not apply to the appointment of a person as the Secretary.

Interim Secretary to Council

33. (1) The Chief Justice may appoint a member of staff of the Courts Service to act as interim Secretary to the Council (in this section referred to as the “interim Secretary”) pending the appointment of the Secretary by the Board under section 32 (1) and pending that appointment—

(a) the interim Secretary shall perform all the functions assigned to the Secretary by or under this Act, and

(b) a reference in this Act to the Secretary shall include a reference to the interim Secretary.

(2) When a Secretary is appointed under section 32 (1), the interim Secretary shall cease to hold office.

Functions of Secretary to Council

34. (1) The Secretary shall, in addition to the functions assigned to him or her by or under any other provision of this Act, manage and control the staff of the Council and the administration of the Council (and its committees) and perform such other functions (if any) as may be determined by the Board.

(2) The Secretary shall perform the functions referred to in subsection (1) (other than those of Registrar to the Judicial Conduct Committee) in accordance with such directions as may be given to him or her from time to time by the Board and shall be accountable to the Board for the performance of those functions and the effective and efficient management of the Council.

(3) The Secretary shall provide to the Board such information in relation to the performance of his or her functions referred to in subsection (2) (including information with respect to the performance of those functions in so far as they relate to the financial affairs of the Council) as the Board may require.

(4) The Secretary may, with the consent of the Board, authorise a member of the staff of the Council to perform a specified function of the Secretary and such a member of the staff so authorised may perform the function accordingly.

(5) The Board may designate a member of the staff of the Council to perform the functions of Secretary in the absence of the Secretary or where the office of Secretary is vacant, and a member of the staff of the Council so designated shall in such absence or upon such office being vacant, perform those functions.

Staff of Council

35. (1) The Board shall, with the approval of the Minister and the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, appoint such and so many persons to be members of the staff of the Council as it may determine.

(2) A member of staff of the Council shall be a civil servant in the Civil Service of the State.

(3) The Board shall be the appropriate authority (within the meaning of the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004 and the Civil Service Regulation Acts 1956 to 2005) in relation to members of the staff of the Council.

(4) For the purposes of this section, the Secretary is not a member of the staff of the Council.

Advances to Council

36. The Minister shall from time to time advance to the Council out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas such amount or amounts as the Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, determine for the purposes of expenditure by the Council in the performance of its functions.

Annual report of Council

37. (1) As soon as practicable, but in any case not later than 6 months, after the end of each financial year of the Council, the Council shall prepare, and submit to the Minister, a report (in this section referred to as the “annual report”) in writing of its activities during that year.

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

(3) The annual report shall include information on the performance of the functions of the Council during the period to which it relates and such other information in such form as the Council considers appropriate.

(4) The Minister shall as soon as may be after the receipt by him or her of the annual report cause copies of the report to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.

(5) The Council shall ensure that, as soon as practicable after copies of the annual report are laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas under subsection (4), the report is published in such manner as the Council considers appropriate.

Accounts of Council

38. (1) The Council shall keep, in such form and in respect of such accounting periods as may be approved by the Minister and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, all proper and usual accounts of moneys received and expended by it, including an income and expenditure account and a balance sheet.

(2) Not later than 3 months after the end of each accounting period, the Council shall submit the accounts kept under this section in respect of that period, signed by the Secretary, to the Comptroller and Auditor General for audit.

(3) Immediately after the audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General of the accounts submitted to him or her in accordance with subsection (2), the Council shall present to the Minister copies of—

(a) the audited accounts, including the income and expenditure account, the balance sheet and such other (if any) accounts kept under this section as the Minister, after consulting with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, may direct, and

(b) the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on the accounts.

(4) As soon as practicable after the presentation to him or her of the audited accounts of the Council and the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon, the Minister shall cause copies of them to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.

Accountability of Council to Public Accounts Committee

39. (1) The Secretary shall, whenever required in writing to do so by the Committee of Dáil Éireann established under the Standing Orders of Dáil Éireann to examine and report to Dáil Éireann on the appropriation accounts and reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General, give evidence to that Committee on—

(a) the regularity and propriety of the transactions recorded, or required to be recorded, in any book or other record of account subject to audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General that the Council is required by this Act to prepare,

(b) the economy and efficiency of the Council in the use of its resources,

(c) the systems, procedures and practices employed by the Council for the purpose of evaluating the effectiveness of its operations, and

(d) any matter affecting the Council referred to in a special report of the Comptroller and Auditor General under section 11(2) of the Comptroller and Auditor General (Amendment) Act 1993 or any other report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (in so far as it relates to a matter specified in paragraph (a), (b) or (c)) that is laid before Dáil Éireann.

(2) In the performance of his or her duties under this section, the Secretary shall not question or express an opinion on the merits of any policy of the Government or any Minister of the Government or on the merits of the objectives of such a policy.

Accountability of Council to other Oireachtas committees

40. (1) Subject to subsection (2), the Secretary shall, at the request in writing of an Oireachtas committee, attend before it to give account for the general administration of the Council.

(2) The Secretary shall not be required to give account before an Oireachtas committee for any one or more of the following:

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

(b) any matter which is, or has been or may at a future date be the subject of proceedings before a court or tribunal in the State;

(c) any matter concerning a judge which is, or has been or may at a future date be the subject of an investigation by the Judicial Conduct Committee.

(3) Where the Secretary is of opinion that a matter in respect of which he or she is requested to give an account before an Oireachtas committee is a matter to which subsection (2) applies, he or she shall, as soon as practicable, seek the opinion of the Board thereon.

(4) If the Board is of opinion that the matter concerned is one to which subsection (2) applies, the Secretary shall inform the Oireachtas committee of the opinion and the reasons for the opinion and, unless the information is conveyed to the Oireachtas committee at the time when the Secretary is before it, the information shall be conveyed to the Oireachtas committee in writing.

(5) If the Board is of opinion that the matter concerned is not one to which subsection (2) applies, the Secretary shall attend before the Oireachtas committee to give account for the matter.

(6) Where the Secretary has informed an Oireachtas committee of the opinion of the Board in accordance with subsection (4) and the Oireachtas committee does not withdraw the request referred to in subsection (1) in so far as it relates to the subject matter of that opinion—

(a) the Secretary may, not later than 21 days after being informed by the Oireachtas committee of its decision not to do so, apply to the High Court in a summary manner for determination of the question whether the matter is one to which subsection (2) applies, or

(b) the chairperson of the Oireachtas committee may, on behalf of the Oireachtas committee, make such an application,

and the High Court shall determine the matter.

(7) Pending the determination of an application under subsection (6), the Secretary shall not attend before the Oireachtas committee to give account for the matter that is the subject of the application.

(8) If the High Court determines that the matter concerned is one to which subsection (2) applies, the Oireachtas committee shall withdraw the request referred to in subsection (1) but if the High Court determines that subsection (2) does not apply, the Secretary shall attend before the Oireachtas committee to give account for the matter.

(9) In the performance of his or her duties under this section, the Secretary shall not question or express an opinion on the merits of any policy of the Government or any Minister of the Government or on the merits of the objectives of such a policy.

(10) In this section “Oireachtas committee” means—

(a) a committee appointed by either House of the Oireachtas or jointly by both Houses of the Oireachtas (other than the Committee referred to in section 39 or the Committee on Members’ Interests of Dáil Éireann or the Committee on Members’ Interests of Seanad Éireann), or

(b) a sub-committee of a committee falling under paragraph (a).

Prohibition on disclosure of confidential information

41. (1) A person shall not, unless he or she is required or permitted by law or duly authorised by the Council to do so, disclose confidential information obtained by him or her while performing functions—

(a) as a member of the Council, the Board or a committee, or

(b) as the Secretary, Registrar or a member of staff of the Council, or as a consultant, adviser or other person who is or was engaged under contract or other arrangement by the Council.

(2) A person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a class A fine.

(3) In this section, “confidential information” includes—

(a) information that is expressed by the Council, the Board or a committee to be confidential either as regards particular information or as regards information of a particular class or description, and

(b) proposals of a commercial nature or tenders submitted to the Council, the Board or a committee by consultants, advisers or any other person.