Former High Court President Peter Kelly has resigned from his position as a judge in Dubai courts following criticism


Former High Court President Peter Kelly has resigned as a judge at the Dubai International Financial Center Courts.

This resignation comes as pressure mounted following the resignation of former Chief Justice Justice Frank Clark at the same court in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over the weekend.

In a statement today, Mr Kelly said: “I have decided to resign from the DIFC Court of Appeal as, as a private individual, I do not want this controversy to interfere with my future time in retirement.”

Mr Kelly, who resigned as President of the High Court in June 2020 at the age of 70, added in his statement to The Irish Times that he would have no further comment.

Both retired judges were among four judges who sworn in to the DIFC last Tuesday in an online swearing-in ceremony presided over by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Ruler of Dubai and President of the DIFC Courts -Courts have been appointed.

Mr Justice Clarke’s resignation came after questions were raised as to whether his new position was compatible with his existing role as President of the Law Reform Commission.

The decision of Mr Justice Clarke and Mr Justice Kelly to take senior positions in a common law commercial court in the UAE – a country with a checkered human rights record – has drawn criticism from several prominent legal figures in Ireland.

Irish Council for Civil Liberties Chair Liam Herrick said the appointments were worrying given the pattern of widespread and serious human rights abuses in the UAE.

“It is a legitimate concern that two of Ireland’s longest-serving retired judges have been appointed to judicial positions by the UAE government,” he said.
Mr Justice Clarke clarified over the weekend that he had informed the Government of his appointment through Attorney General Paul Gallagher SC.

Donncha O’Connell, Professor of Law at NUI Galway, said Mr Justice Kelly’s position on the DIFC courts had become “entirely untenable” following the resignation of his colleague.

In a social media post, Prof O’Connell, a former member of the Law Reform Commission, also called for an investigation by the Judiciary Council into how the controversy arose.

Former Government Minister and Senior Counsel Alex White SC said the decision by two retired members of the Irish judiciary to accept appointments to the DIFC courts showed “a great lack of judgement”.

Meanwhile, a retired lawyer and human rights activist, Bill Shipsey SC, who wrote a highly critical article about the appointments last week, said he had texted Mr Justice Clarke to commend him for his “brave and correct decision” to step down.

Trade union leader and law lecturer Ivana Bacik told the Sunday Independent that she was “stunned” when the two judges took office in Dubai, given the well-documented human rights abuses of both the UAE and the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum .
. Former High Court President Peter Kelly has resigned from his position as a judge in Dubai courts following criticism

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