A bill providing for the establishment of a council of judges to agree on sentencing guidelines has passed in the Oireachtas.
The new council will also set down guidelines for the awarding of damages in personal injuries cases.
The law also provides for judicial training and will give the council powers to investigate complaints against judges.
This evening, the Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said the Government would do everything necessary to have the Council established before the end of this year.
“This multifaceted Bill will help to shape the way in which our judiciary operates at all levels by promoting consistent standards of excellence, preserving the very valuable confidence that the public has in our judiciary and in the administration of justice in this country,” he said.
“The bill, which has been developed in collaboration with the judiciary, will underpin the independence of the judiciary which is already enshrined in our Constitution and, is, of course, a critical component in any functioning democracy.”
Under the new legislation, any court that departs from the sentencing guidelines set down by the council will have to outline its reasons for doing so.
The establishment of the committee in charge of personal injury claims was recommended by the Personal Injuries Commission which was set up to tackle skyrocketing insurance premiums.
The guidelines it produces will replace the Book of Quantum.
“The passage of the Bill is only a first step in the work which lies ahead,” said Minister Flanagan.
“The Government will do everything necessary to ensure that the Council can be established before the end of this year.
“There will then be an ambitious programme of work to be carried out by the Council itself in order to address the mandate which has been entrusted to it.
“I have every confidence that this mandate will be carried out with diligence and to the highest standards.”
The Government said judicial councils are already a feature of most developed legal systems around the world.
It is to remain fully independent in the performance of its functions.