Nicholas Kearns


Nicholas Kearns (born 1946) is a retired Irish judge who served as President of the High Court from 2009 to 2015 and a Judge of the High Court from 1998 to 2015.[1] He retired as President of the High Court on 19 December 2015.

Nicholas Kearns
President of the High Court
In office
28 October 2009  19 December 2015
Nominated byGovernment of Ireland
Appointed byMary McAleese
Preceded byRichard Johnson
Succeeded byPeter Kelly
Judge of the High Court
In office
28 October 2009  19 December 2015
Nominated byGovernment of Ireland
Appointed byMary McAleese
In office
1998–2004
Nominated byGovernment of Ireland
Appointed byMary McAleese
Judge of the Supreme Court of Ireland
In office
2004–2009
Nominated byGovernment of Ireland
Appointed byMary McAleese
Personal details
Born1946 (age 7475)
Dublin, Ireland
NationalityIrish
Spouse(s)Eleanor
Children4
Alma mater

Early career


Kearns was born in 1946 and educated at St Mary's College, Dublin.[2] He attended University College Dublin and subsequently attended the King's Inns. He also achieved a diploma in European law from UCD.[3]

He was called to the bar in 1968, the Bar of England and Wales in 1981 and became a senior counsel in March 1982.[3] His practice was primarily focused on personal injuries law.[2]

Judicial career


High Court

He came a judge of the High Court in 1998. At one stage, he was in charge of the competition law list.[4] He co-founded the Association of European Competition Law Judges.[2]

He was an ad hoc judge of the European Court of Human Rights,[4] serving from 2000 until 2009.[2]

He was the chairperson of the Referendum Commission convened for the 27th Amendment to the Constitution of Ireland in 2004.[5]

He has presided over the Special Criminal Court,[6] and the former Court of Criminal Appeal.[5]

Supreme Court

He was elevated to the Supreme Court of Ireland in 2004.[7]

President of the High Court

He became the President of the High Court in October 2009.[8] He retired in 2015 ahead of the mandatory retirement date in order to spend more time with family.[9]

Doherty v. Ireland

On 12 July 2010, the High Court granted leave to Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty for a judicial review into why a by-election was not being held in Donegal South-West.[10] The seat was vacant since June 2009, following the resignation of Fianna Fáil TD Pat "the Cope" Gallagher on his election to the European Parliament. On 2 November 2010, the High Court ruled that there was an unreasonable delay in holding the by-election. In his ruling, Kearns described the delay as unprecedented[11] and that the delay amounted to a breach of Doherty's constitutional rights. He declared that Section 30 (2) of the Electoral Act 1992 should be construed as requiring that a writ for a by-election be moved within a reasonable time of the vacancy arising.[12] He further stated,

...it is the ongoing failure to move the writ for this by-election since June 2009 which offends the terms and spirit of the Constitution and its framework for democratic representation.[13]

However, Justice Kearns did not order the Government of Ireland to set a date for the by-election. The Government announced on 4 November 2010, that the by-election would be held on 25 November. They also stated that they would appeal to the Supreme Court.[11] On 26 November 2010, Doherty won the by-election.

Post-judicial career


Kearns was appointed by Mary Mitchell O'Connor in 2017 to become the chairperson of the Personal Injuries Commission. The purpose of the commission was to review claims process in Ireland.[4]

He became the deputy chairperson of the National Maternity Hospital, Dublin in 2015 and is a trustee of the Gate Theatre.[14][15]

Personal life


He is married to Eleanor, with whom he has four sons.[2]

References


  1. Coulter, Carol (7 October 2009). "Government nominates new president of High Court". The Irish Times. Retrieved 15 October 2009.
  2. "Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns". The Irish Times. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  3. "Five called to Inner Bar". The Irish Times. 6 March 1962. p. 8.
  4. "Minister Mitchell O'Connor appoints Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns as chairperson of the Personal Injuries Commission". dbei.gov.ie. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  5. "The judge who speaks up for ordinary people". Irish Independent. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  6. "Principals Club dinner at Merrion Hotel honours Nicholas Kearns". Business & Finance. 19 October 2018. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  7. "Government announce new judge appointments". Breaking News. 9 November 2004. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  8. "Annual Report 2009" (PDF). Judicial Appointments Advisory Board. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  9. "Family first as High Court president to retire early". Irish Independent. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  10. "Bye-election judicial review is allowed". RTÉ News. 12 July 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
  11. "Government to hold bye-election this month". RTÉ News. 3 November 2010. Retrieved 3 November 2010.
  12. "Court declares byelection delay unconstitutional". The Irish Times. 4 November 2010.
  13. "Doherty -v- Government of Ireland & Anor". www.courts.ie. 3 November 2010. Retrieved 3 November 2010.
  14. "Meet the Board". NMH. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  15. "Gate Theatre Board & Governance - The Gate Theatre, Dublin, Ireland". Gate Theatre Dublin. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Richard Johnson
President of the High Court
October 2009–December 2015
Succeeded by
Peter Kelly