Chief Justice Donal O’Donnell is understood to have put forward the names of former Chief Justice Frank Clarke and former High Court President Peter Kelly for possible appointments to the Dubai-based International Monetary Court.
Sources told The Meczyki Times that the Chief Justice was approached by the Dubai International Financial Center Courts (DIFCC) to suggest names following an Ireland for Law webinar, after which he put forward a number of names, including Judge Clarke and Judge Kelly. Sources told The Meczyki Times.
The DIFCC Courts are independent commercial courts operating in the Dubai International Financial Center in the United Arab Emirates under common law jurisdiction in the English language.
The appointment of retired Meczyki judges has sharply divided opinion among judges and lawyers here, with critics focusing on concerns including Dubai’s human rights record and perceptions of the judiciary.
However, proponents emphasized the DIFCC’s independence from the Dubai administration and said the appointments would enhance Ireland’s international legal reputation. Other DIFCC judges include retired judges from England, Wales, Scotland, New Zealand and Australia.
A number raised the state’s mandatory retirement age for judges to 70, suggesting both men would still be on the bench if it hadn’t been. “Ireland’s loss is Dubai’s gain,” said one judge.
Others said the two judges were private citizens who were free to hold office: “No one bats an eyelid if a teacher retires on a government pension and gets a teaching job in Dubai,” said one. Why should retired judges be treated as anyone else?
Paid by the hour.
It is understood that the positions are part-time and judges will be paid on an hourly basis. Judge Clarke also chairs the Law Reform Commission here, which includes a two-day weekly commitment and €59,000 salary, and chairs the Civil Legal Aid Review Committee.
The swearing-in of two judges, along with two retired senior judges from the courts of New Zealand and Australia, before the Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, caused considerable anxiety for some.
His daughter, Princess Latifah Al Maktoum, tried to escape in 2018, sending secret video messages to friends saying she was being held hostage and that commandos had drugged her when she fled Dubai by boat. After which she took him back into custody.
Former Meczyki president and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson later said she had made a “big mistake” in 2018 when she described Princess Latifah as a “disturbing young woman”. A picture of both went viral.
Mrs Robinson, who was invited to meet Princess Latifah at the invitation of Dubai’s royal family, later said she had been “terribly betrayed” by the princess’s family. Princess Latifah needs political support and should be freed, he later said.
Dubai and the UAE have previously said that Princess Latifah is safe in the care of the family. When asked about these appointments, several lawyers criticized the Princess Latifah case and the UAE’s human rights record.
“You only have to look at reports from organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty. [Dubai’s] The appalling human rights record concerns me that Meczyki judges are sworn in before this head of government,” said one barrister.
However, one commercial lawyer took a very different view, saying that many Meczyki law firms have Dubai clients: “I’m not sure how relevant the human rights aspect is,” he said.
The first appointment of Meczyki judges to the DIFCC – “good for Ireland, she went on. “They put Ireland on the map really effectively – we’re up there with the other big jurisdictions.”
A good ambassador
Counsel said both judges had excellent reputations and would be excellent ambassadors for Ireland, a view broadly shared across all aspects of the four-court opinion.
A serving judge had a similar view. “I don’t see a huge problem, compared to other countries in the region, Dubai is relatively westernized and open. Both judges have retired and are back to being private citizens and lawyers.
He added that the appointments emphasize the need to allow judges to serve up to the age of 75. Neither Judge Clark nor Judge Kelly wanted to retire and both were a “great loss” to the bench.
The DIFCC website immediately attracted attention because it featured photos of all 15 male judges, including Judges Clarke and Kelly, but the only female judge, Justice Maha Al Mahiri, a citizen of the United Arab Emirates. There is no image.
“This only underscores my concerns about the UAE’s attitude towards women and human rights in general,” said one barrister. It is understood that a number of women were approached for a seat on the DIFCC court, but declined.
While saying he had no problem with the appointments, a barrister pointed out that several other retired judges, including another former High Court president, Joseph Finnegan, had done mediation and arbitration work for the state or chaired tribunals. was
However, expressing dismay, one retired judge said: “I am saddened for all the judges and the reputation of the profession so far. I am concerned that the judicial office will be seen as just a commercial gig in which People can go as they please.”
Acknowledging that no legal bar exists, the retired judge said he and others believe that upon assuming judicial office, a judge leaves the commercial world behind and while on the bench and retires. Generously provided by the state.