Chambers and Accommodation
The provision of chambers to judges represents an important judicial support. Judges require a room, separate from members of the public, litigants and members of the legal profession, in which to read pleadings and other court documents, research the law, write judgments, dress for court, meet visitors, eat meals and conduct administrative tasks associated with the discharge of their function. In addition, judges will occasionally hear matters which they are permitted to hear other than in public “in chambers”.
All Supreme Court and High Court judges are provided with individual chambers by the Courts Service. Circuit Court and District Court judges are not provided with individual chambers. Rather, for the duration of a particular assignment or Court session, they have the temporary use of the judge’s chambers attached to whatever Court they are sitting in.
From time to time judges are required to operate away from base. The High Court sits several times a year in provincial locations to hear circuit appeals, personal injuries cases and non-jury civil cases, or (sitting as the Central Criminal Court) criminal trials. On such occasions these judges (usually two) are accommodated in hotel accommodation reserved for them, and paid for directly, by the Courts Service. Such accommodation is usually provided some distance from the Courthouse in question to minimise the possibility of judges encountering either the lawyers or the parties in cases before them.
In the case of Circuit and District Judges who travel and require to be accommodated away from home they must reserve and pay for their own accommodation, but may claim a subsistence allowance (at designated rates) from the Court’s Service towards the cost of this accommodation.