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Judge School

In the public service strike, the courts stopped work on Tuesday the 6th of November 2009. This is of less interest than the stoppage of the previous Friday. The judges of the superior courts went to school that day and, of necessity, ceased working. Why was this interesting fact not reported by the media? More importantly, why do we not know the subject of the lessons of the day?

We owe great debts to Montesquieu but he over-egged the pudding when he asserted the primacy of the constitutional principle of the separation of powers. The Executive power will not countenance, and never has, full judicial independence.

Consequently, it is naïve to think a court is not an agent for the application of Government policy, as expressed in law (and sometimes not so expressed).

This may not be the context for the judges’ lessons, but we can hardly think they need refreshers on whether Ms. Donohoe should have won in Donohue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562.

Perhaps they needed a good talking to about the imperative to front-load legal costs on uppity Plaintiffs seeking injunctions?

Or why proposals to re-introduce the death penalty into Ireland ought to be seriously addressed, to distract from current political difficulties?

Or why the current chaos in the Irish legal system, that is the provision of discovery of documents, should persist?

Of course, the lessons may not address these things at all. They may be perfectly standard “continuous professional development” stuff, consisting of a review of recent case law on some theme, say, Tort law.

Either way, it behooves the media to at least ask what is taught at Judge school. It might tell us something about Ireland we need to know, and God knows, we know very little.