Continuing education for the Irish judiciary is facilitated by the Committee for Judicial Studies. The background to the establishment of this body (and its predecessor the Judicial Studies Institute) was the enactment of section 19 of the Courts and Court Officers Act, 1995, which provides that:
“A person who wishes to be considered for appointment to Judicial office shall undertake to the Board (The Judicial Appointments Advisory Board) his or her agreement, if appointed to Judicial Office, to take such course or courses of training or education, or both, as may be required by the Chief Justice or President of the Court to which that person is appointed.”
Section 48 of the same Act further provides that:
“The Minister [now the Minister for Justice & Equality] may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance provide funds for the training and education of Judges.”
As a result of these provisions of the Courts and Court Officers Act, 1995 coming into force, a Judicial Studies Institute was set up in mid 1996 by the then Chief Justice, the Hon. Mr. Justice Liam Hamilton, to provide for the training and for the on-going education of the Judiciary. Initial funding for this project was provided by the Minister. It has since been re-constituted as the Judicial Studies Committee.
The Judicial Studies Committee meets about five times per annum. Secretariat services for the Committee’s meetings are provided by The Courts Service. The Judicial Studies Committee has extremely limited financial resources and is accordingly unable to provide the type of continuing training and education that is common in other jurisdictions. In the circumstances its activities are confined to the organisation of annual one-day conferences for the Judges of the District Court, the Circuit Court, and the combined High and Supreme Courts, respectively. In addition there is a one day annual National Judges’ Conference at which topics relevant to judges of all jurisdictions are discussed. During these conferences speakers are invited to present papers on a range of subjects. The Judicial Studies Committee receives some administrative support from The Courts Service in the making of arrangements for, and the organisation of, these conferences.
Apart from this the Committee nominates Judges to attend international conferences on relevant legal topics, and some bench books and training in information and communications technology are also provided.
The Judicial Studies Journal (formerly the Judicial Studies Institute Journal) is also published, usually twice a year, under the auspices of the Judicial Studies Committee and is provided free to all judges. The Judicial Studies Journal has its own website at www.jsijournal.ie.
Finally, the Committee, in conjunction with The Courts Service, also hosts visits from foreign judicial/legal delegations. The Committee hosted the Annual General Assembly of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) in Dublin in May, 2012 and the Patent Judges Bi Annual Symposium in September, 2012. It is expected that in 2013 it will host the General Assembly of the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN) in Dublin.