Judicial Council Act 2019

40.

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).