Who are the Judiciary?

The Judiciary are those appointed by the President of Ireland under Article 35.1 of the Constitution of Ireland. However, this function of appointing judges is not one of Presidential discretion. Rather, and in accordance with Article 13.9 of the Constitution of Ireland, when the President of Ireland appoints a judge he does so “on the advice of the Government”.

Once appointed a judge is required to make the Declaration provided for in Article 34.5.1 of the Constitution of Ireland not later than 10 days after the date of appointment. In the event of failure to do so within the said ten day period the judge is deemed to have vacated his or her office.

The declaration required by the Constitution is in the following terms:

In the presence of Almighty God I [name of judge] do solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will duly and faithfully and to the best of my knowledge and power execute the office of Chief Justice [or as the case may be] without fear or favour, affection or ill-will towards any man, and that I will uphold the Constitution and the laws. May God direct and sustain me.

Precedence and Rank within the Judiciary is as follows:

  1. The Chief Justice.
  2. The President of the High Court (ex-officio a judge of the Supreme Court);
  3. The judges of the Supreme Court who are former Chief Justices each according to priority of his or her appointment as Chief Justice;
  4. Other judges of the Supreme Court, other than judges of the High Court who (being former Presidents of the High Court) are ex-officio judges of the Supreme Court, each according to priority of his or her appointment as an ordinary judge of the Supreme Court;
  5. Judges of the High Court who (being former Presidents of the High Court) are ex-officio judges of the Supreme Court, each according to priority of his or her appointment as President of the High Court;
  6. Other judges of the High Court, other than judges of the Circuit Court who (being a President or a former President of the Circuit Court) are ex-officio judges of the High Court, each according to priority of his or her appointment as an ordinary judge of the High Court;
  7. The President of the Circuit Court (ex officio a judge of the High Court);
  8. Other judges of the Circuit Court who (being former Presidents of the Circuit Court ) are ex-officio judges of the High Court, each according to priority of his or her appointment as President of the Circuit Court;
  9. Other judges of the Circuit Court, other than judges of the District Court who (being a President or a former President of the District Court) are ex-officio judges of the Circuit Court, each according to priority of his or her appointment as a judge of the Circuit Court;
  10. The President of the District Court (ex officio a judge of the Circuit Court);
  11. Former Presidents of the District Court (ex officio judges of the Circuit Court) according to priority of his or her appointment as President of the District Court;
  12. Other Judges of the District Court, each according to priority of his or her appointment as a judge of the District Court.

The Courts Service website maintains a full and up to date list of the names and rank of each member of the serving judiciary.

Click here for the full list.

Contrary to a misconception sometimes held, neither the Master of the High Court nor the Taxing Masters are members of the judiciary. They are what are known as quasi-judicial office holders.

Gender within the Irish judiciary

At present 27.4% of Irish judges are female. In the District Court, almost 30% or 19 out of 64 are female. The Circuit Court has 37% female representation. In the High Court, women constitute 17% of the judges, and in the Supreme Court the figure is 12.5%

The Number of Judges – how Ireland compares internationally

Ireland has the lowest number of judges per one hundred thousand inhabitants of 47 countries examined by the European Commission in 2010. The following are the number of judges per one hundred thousand inhabitants by country.

  • Albania – 11.7
  • Andorra – 28.2
  • Armenia – 6.7
  • Austria – 17.8
  • Azerbaijan – 6.7
  • Belgium – 14.8
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina – 24.4
  • Bulgaria – 29.8
  • Croatia – 42.8
  • Cyprus – 12.9
  • Czech Republic – 29.1
  • Denmark – 9.0
  • Estonia – 16.7
  • Finland – 18.0
  • France – 10.7
  • Georgia – 5.2
  • Germany – 24.3
  • Greece – 18.0
  • Hungary – 29.0
  • Iceland – 16.3
  • Ireland – 3.2
  • Italy – 11.0
  • Latvia – 21.2
  • Lithuania – 23.6
  • Luxembourg – 36.7
  • Malta – 9.3
  • Moldova – 12.4
  • Monaco – 100.3
  • Montenegro – 41.9
  • Netherlands – 15.2
  • Norway – 11.2
  • Poland – 27.8
  • Portugal – 18.4
  • Romania – 19.0
  • Russian Federation – 22.6
  • San Marino – 42.2
  • Serbia – 33.7
  • Slovakia – 24.9
  • Slovenia – 49.9
  • Spain – 10.2
  • Sweden 11.5
  • Switzerland – 14.5
  • FYRO Macedonia – 32.3
  • Turkey – 10.6
  • Ukraine – 19.3
  • UK – England and Wales – 3.6
  • UK – Scotland – 3.5
  • These figures are in respect of full time professional judges. All judges in Ireland are full time professionals. In some countries there are professional judges who sit on a part time basis. This occurs, for example, in England and Wales and Scotland. There are 13.5 such judges per one hundred thousand inhabitants in England and Wales and 1.9 in Scotland. In those countries, there are also non-professional judges i.e. laypersons. In England and Wales there are 49.1 such persons per one hundred thousand inhabitants and in Scotland 7.4.

    Thus, Ireland, has by far the least number of judges per head of population.