Two of Ireland’s most senior retired judges appointed to the United Arab Emirates

Two of Ireland’s longest-serving retired judges have been appointed to the chamber of a court in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Former Chief Justice Frank Clarke, 70, and former President of the High Court Peter Kelly, 72, were announced yesterday as judges of the Court of Appeal at the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) courts.

The DIFC is a special economic zone and financial center and its courts are English-speaking common law courts that deal with local and international civil and commercial disputes.

Most of its benches are made up of judges or solicitors who have previously worked in other jurisdictions including England and Wales, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia.

However, Mr Justice Clarke and Mr Justice Kelly are the first Irish judges to be appointed to the Court.

Both had to retire from the Irish courts at the age of 70.

Her appointment to the UAE General Court is expected to reignite the debate on the retirement age for Irish judges.

In 2020, then-Attorney General Charlie Flanagan had proposed raising the retirement age from 70 to 72, citing a desire to preserve the expertise of senior judges for longer and the fact that many people are now living and working longer.

However, the move was opposed by the Department for Public Expenditure and Reform, reportedly over concerns about the potential cost to the Treasury of having more judges entitled to full pensions, as well as the impact on the broader public sector.

Mr Justice Clarke continued to practice law after leaving the Supreme Court in October last year and became one of only a few senior judges to return to practice after retiring.

He worked in arbitration but did not appear in court.

A Bar Council rule prevents former judges from practicing in a court equal to or lower than the court they served.

Mr Justice Kelly retired from the bench in 2020.

He has since served on the Council of the Royal College of Surgeons and is Associate Professor of Law at Maynooth University.

According to a legal source, her new roles will be part-time and will primarily involve remote work from Ireland.

The jurisdiction of Irish judges will be limited to appeals in civil and commercial disputes.

The DIFC courts do not deal with criminal matters.

Her appointments were made by the UAE’s billionaire Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Sheikh Mohammed himself has been at the center of high-profile litigation.

In 2020, a British court, after weighing all odds, found that he had kidnapped two daughters and threatened his former wife, Princess Haya bint Hussein. Two of Ireland’s most senior retired judges appointed to the United Arab Emirates

Fry Electronics Team

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