Thursday, June 16, 2011

New Constitutional Provision on Judges' Pay

Here's the draft new article approved by Cabinet on Tuesday according to the Irish Tmes: “The remuneration of judges shall not be reduced during their continuance in office save as may be regulated by law on the basis of reductions that are made by law, in the public interest, in the remuneration of persons generally or a class of such persons in the public service, including the Oireachtas and other office holders.”

I wonder if this is unnecessarily complicated drafting. Does this draft rule out a reduction in pay to a class of persons only limited to judges? Does the class always have to include the Oireachtas and other office holders? What happens if there is a pay raise granted to a part of this class later on which does not include judges?

It is important to draft the article such that it does not not do violence to the idea behind current article 35.5, which is to protect the independence of the judiciary. One wonders if the monetary value of the savings realised by imposing pay cuts on judges is worth the effort.