Role of the judge

Information

The judge in an Irish courtroom usually sits on a raised platform at the top of the court and wears white collars and a black gown.

If there is no jury in a case, it is the judge who decides which party wins and which party loses. They listen to the evidence of both sides and to the submissions of the barristers (or solicitors). The judge may ask questions of any witness and of the barristers (or solicitors).

The judge may give the judgment in the case at the end of the trial or they may "reserve" the judgment. When a judgment is reserved, the judge will take time to consider the case and then at some later stage deliver the judgment.

If there is a jury in the case, it is usually the jury that decides the outcome of the case. The judge provides guidance to the jury and makes sure that the trial is run properly. The jury in a criminal trial has the very important function of deciding whether the person accused of the crime is guilty or not guilty.

In the past, judges in Ireland were referred to as "My Lord", or "His Lordship". Now, they are addressed as "Judge" or referred to as "The Court". The only exception to this is in the case of the Chief Justice and Presidents of the various lower courts, who are addressed by their titles.

Judicial assistant

Judges appointed after 2011 are assigned a judicial assistant rather than a tipstaff or crier.

Some judicial assistants are assigned to the work directly with judges of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, High Court and Circuit Court. Assistants assigned to specific judges assist the judge with research, preparing for cases, proof-reading and communicating with the parties to a case. They also combine the role of judicial assistant with that of the traditional tipstaff or crier.

Other judicial assistants are assigned to the Judicial Research Office (JRO), which is a pool of assistants available to judges without a designated judicial assistant. The JRO undertakes research, preparation of material for publication, preparation and updating of handbooks, and proof-reading of judgements and other documents for judges across all jurisdictions.

A small number of tipstaff remain, who are generally working with judges appointed up to 2011.

Rules

Judges in Ireland are appointed by the President acting on the advice of the Government.

In most cases, the Government decides who to appoint as a judge after it has been advised by the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board. This Board identifies and informs the Government about suitable barristers and solicitors who have applied for the job. The Judicial Appointments Advisory Board was established by law under Section 13 of the Court and Court Officers Act 1995. Membership of the Judicial Appointments Board consist of the Chief Justice, President of the Court of Appeal, President of the High Court, President of the Circuit Court, President of the District Court, the Attorney General, a practicing barrister, solicitor and 3 Ministerial appointments.

Judges must have at least 10 years’ experience as a barrister or solicitor before being appointed to the District Court and at least 12 years’ experience before being appointed to the High Court, Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court. Usually they have many more years of experience before they are appointed.

Page edited: 16 July 2020