Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New Draft Article for Judges' Pay Cut Referendum

Here's the proposed new draft article 35(5) via the Department of Justice's website:

35.5.1° The remuneration of judges shall not be reduced during their continuance in office save in accordance with this section.

35.5.2° The remuneration of judges is subject to the imposition of taxes, levies or other charges that are imposed by law on persons generally or persons belonging to a particular class.

35.5.3° Where, before or after the enactment into law of this section, reductions have been or are made by law to the remuneration of persons belonging to classes of persons whose remuneration is paid out of public money and such law states that those reductions are in the public interest, provision may also be made by law to make reductions to the remuneration of judges.

Paul MacMahon has an excellent post analysing the proposed draft. I agree with him that the drafting is terrible. It is no better than the previous version, which I wrote about here. It creates potential for unnecessary confusion with the use of the word "classes." I've no idea why this word is necessary: would it make any difference if "belonging to classes of persons" is deleted?  It is also problematic that the pay cut for judges does not necessarily have to be of the same percentage or euro amount as that imposed on other employees. If the raison d'etre for the pay cut is that judges ought to be treated like other employees, what happened to parity?

I'm not sure I agree with Paul's point about the need for an independent council to ensure judicial independence. Such an agency comprising of the great and the good is likely to be appointed by the government in any case. If independence is compromised because pay is set directly by the government how is it not compromised by an agency thereof?

Some of my previous posts on the judges' pay issue are here, here, and here