The new President of the High Court defends judges who have served in courts in Dubai

THE President of the High Court has called criticism of the appointment of two retired Irish judges to senior courts in the United Arab Emirates “a bit unfair”.

r Judge David Barniville told the Irish Times the controversy was “a terrible shame and dreadful” for the two men involved and praised their “good service to the state” over the years.

Last month, former High Court President Peter Kelly resigned from his post as judge of the Dubai International Financial Center courts.

Mr Kelly followed retired colleague Frank Clarke as he left the job in the UAE after criticizing the country’s human rights record.

This morning the Irish Times published an interview with Mr Justice Barniville who pointed out that Mr Clarke and Mr Kelly have retired as Irish judges and as such are private individuals.

Discussing her appointment to the court in Dubai, he said: “Much of the criticism of this court was ill-informed and, in my opinion, a little bit unfair.”

He said comparing the DIFC courses to the LIV golf tour in Saudi Arabia was “completely out of place”.

He told the Irish Times: “I don’t think the comparison was fair, but I can totally understand why both Peter Kelly and Frank Clarke decided they didn’t want to, given the type of public criticism that was being leveled at the time stay in place.

“They didn’t need that effort. I think for people who have served the state so well over the years it was a terrible shame and terrible for them.

“I’m very happy to say that I think very, very much of them and I don’t think less of them because of that. I

“I can understand why they resigned, but I think a lot of the critics didn’t really get what it was about.”

Asked about human rights concerns, he said, “You don’t always have to approve of a regime to work as part of it.”

He pointed out that from a business perspective, Dubai is “an enormously important market for Ireland”.

Both retired judges were among four judges appointed to the DIFC courts in an online swearing-in ceremony over the summer, 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 became dishes.

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.

And Donncha O’Connell, law professor at NUI Galway, said Mr Justice Kelly’s position on the DIFC courts had become “entirely untenable” after his colleague’s resignation. The new President of the High Court defends judges who have served in courts in Dubai

Fry Electronics Team

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