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Guiney, Ciara (2020) Recent legislation. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 73, Spring 2020 , pp. 10-13.

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Judicial Council Act 2019

The Judicial Council Act 2019 was enacted on 23 July 2019.1 The Act provides for the establishment of a Judicial Council. The council, which will be an independent body, will promote and maintain excellence and high standards. In addition, it will provide a statutory basis for the training of judges and for the investigation of complaints against judges. Under the provisions of the Act, the Judicial Council will also be responsible for establishing several subcommittees.

Judicial Studies Committee

Under Section 17 of the Act, the Judicial Studies Committee will be responsible for preparing and distributing information relevant to judges. In addition, it will facilitate the continuing education and training of judges regarding their function.

Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee

Under Section 18, the Judicial Council is required to establish a Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee within three months of the council’s establishment. This committee will consist of seven judges put forward by the Chief Justice. Each judge will be required to submit draft guidelines and amendments for personal injuries for appropriate general damages for various types of personal injury within six months of its commencement. Following completion of the first review, a follow-up review of the guidelines is required within three years, and once every three years thereafter.

Sentencing Guidelines and Information Committee

Under Section 23, within six months of the first Judicial Council meeting, the council is required to establish a Sentencing Guidelines and Information Committee. Under the provisions
of the Act, the committee shall:

- Prepare and submit draft sentencing guidelines and amendments to sentencing guidelines adopted by the council to the board for review.

- Monitor the operation of sentencing guidelines.

- Collate and disseminate sentencing data to judges and other relevant individuals.

Under Section 24, the committee will consist of 13 members: eight judges put forward by the Chief Justice, one of which will act as chairperson, and five lay members, who will be appointed by the Government.

Under Section 29, the Minister for Justice and Equality is required to begin a review of all legislation that provides for the imposition of minimum sentences for offences. The review must consider whether minimum sentences are imposed correctly and at what level of imposition. The findings must be submitted by the Minister to both Houses of the Oireachtas within 12 months of the review starting.

Judicial Support Committees

Under Section 30, five Judicial Support Committees will be established, namely:

- Supreme Court Judicial Support Committee

- Court of Appeal Judicial Support Committee

- High Court Judicial Support Committee

- Circuit Court Judicial Support Committee

- District Court Judicial Support Committee.

These will be available to each of the courts to advise and assist the Judicial Council in the performance of its functions.

Judicial Conduct Committee

Under Section 43, the Judicial Council is required to establish the Judicial Conduct Committee to promote and maintain high standards of conduct among judges relating to principles of judicial conduct requiring judges to uphold and exemplify judicial independence, impartiality, integrity, propriety (including the appearance of propriety), competence, and diligence, and to ensure equality of treatment to all persons before the courts. This committee will investigate complaints against judges and refer them for resolution by informal means. It is required to prepare and submit a review draft of guidelines for judicial conduct, including guidance on when a judge should recuse him or herself from presiding over legal proceedings.

Under this Act, the Judicial Conduct Committee is considered independent in the performance of its functions and shall have such powers deemed necessary or useful to carry out its functions. It may obtain legal, medical, or other advice in connection with performing its functions and may bring or defend legal proceedings or any other act or thing necessary for the performance of its functions.

Conclusion

Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan TD believes that the enactment of this Act is a ‘landmark development’, which 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’.2

1 Judicial Council Act 2019. Available online at: http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2019/act/33/enacted/en/html

2 Department of Justice and Equality (2019) Minister Flanagan announces the passage of the landmark Judicial Council Bill. 9 July. Available online at: http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PR19000187

Misuse of Drugs (Prescription and Control of Supply of Cannabis for Medical Use) Regulations 2019

A statutory instrument, SI No. 262/2019 – Misuse of Drugs (Prescription and Control of Supply of Cannabis for Medical Use) Regulations 2019, was signed on 26 June 2019. These regulations allow for the use of certain cannabis products for the treatment of persons with certain medical conditions when under the care of a medical consultant.

Prescription and supply under the Cannabis for Medical Use Register

Part 2 of the Regulations provides for the prescription and supply of cannabis under the Cannabis for Medical Use Register (CMUR):

Under Section 4 of the Regulations, a practitioner prescribing cannabis must be a medical consultant, must include their name and address on the prescription, and must continue to be responsible for and supervise the patient while being treated. In addition, only a person named on the CMUR who has been given a CMUR number from the Health Service Executive (HSE) can be issued a prescription.

Under Section 4(6), when a prescription is being issued for the first time:

- It must be intended to treat the person for a specific condition.

- The HSE must be provided with the person’s name, address, date of birth, and the name of the condition being treated; the notifying practitioner’s name, registration number, and medical speciality; and any other information required by the HSE.

Section 5 of the Regulations provides for the establishment and maintenance of the CMUR. The CMUR records the information provided by the practitioner under Section 4(6). The HSE can alter or delete an entry; however, it may need additional information from the medical consultant supervising the treatment. The HSE is also responsible for assigning the CMUR number to each person entered in the register.

Under Sections 6 and 7, only a pharmacist or a person operating a retail pharmacy business shall supply a specified controlled drug to a practitioner. These suppliers must maintain records of the following:

- Date of supply

- Name of drug, quantity, and dosage

- Name, address, and registration number of the prescriber

- CMUR number

- Name and address of the person who is being prescribed the drug

- Date of prescription.

Commercial supply under licence

Part 3 of the Regulations provides for the commercial supply of cannabis under licence.

Under Sections 11 and 12, a specified controlled drug should only be supplied to a pharmacist, retail pharmacy business, or hospital. For each consignment supplied, the supplier must maintain a record of each consignment received and supplied for a minimum of five years. The following information should be recorded:

- Name of the drug, including the brand name

- Dosage form of the drug

- Quantity of drug received and supplied

- Batch number of the drug received

- Name and address of the producer of that specified controlled drug in the form it was received

- Name and address of the supplier of each consignment.

This information should be made available to the Minister for Health when requested for review.

Section 13 prohibits the exportation of imported specified controlled drugs outside of the State.

This legislation provides for the operation of the Medical Cannabis Access Programme on a pilot basis for five years.

Reporting, enforcement, and advertising

Part 4 of the Regulations provides for the reporting, enforcement, and advertising of a specified controlled drug within the scope of Part 2 or Part 3. Under Section 15, a person shall report suspected adverse reactions and quality defects to the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) within 15 days of being provided with the information. Where there are quality or safety issues relating to a specified controlled drug or batch, HPRA can authorise the withdrawal or recall of the product (Section 16). If notice is received from the Minister for Health or HPRA to stop prescribing, supplying, or importing a specified drug, the specified controlled drug should no longer be supplied or imported (Section 17). Under Section 18, the advertisement or supply of information related to a specified controlled drug to the general public is restricted.

1 Misuse of Drugs (Prescription and Control of Supply of Cannabis for Medical Use) Regulations 2019. Available online at: http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2019/si/262/made/en/print

Parole Act 2019

The Parole Act 2019 was enacted on 23 July 2019.1 The purpose of the Act is to confer responsibility for granting parole upon an independent statutory body. It is divided into three parts. Part 1 addresses preliminary and general matters; Part 2 addresses the Parole Board, its powers, and compositions; and Part 3 deals with parole applications, guiding principles, and the parole process.

Part 2 of Act

Section 8 of the Act provides for the establishment of the Parole Board (known as An Bord Parúil). The board will function independently and on a statutory basis. The functions conferred on the board will include:

- Providing information to persons serving sentences of imprisonment, victims, and members of the public in relation to its functions

- Providing information to the Minister for Justice and Equality in relation to the functions of the board

- Making recommendations upon the request of the Minister to help him or her coordinate prisoners released on parole and draw up policy related to prisoners released on parole

- Undertaking or assisting in research projects that may inform how the board operates and assist the Minister in decision-making.

Section 13(1) provides the board with powers that are deemed necessary to carry out its functions. Under this section the board will be able to:

- Authorise written reports from appropriate individuals related to specific individuals.

- Assign a legal representative to the relevant person if they do not already have one during deliberations of parole application or parole order revocations.

- Interview a relevant person and receive oral submissions from him/her or his/her legal representative.

- Receive written arguments from a relevant person or his/her legal representative.

- Assign a legal representative to the relevant victim where he or she wishes to put forward arguments to the board.

- Meet with a relevant victim to receive oral or written arguments from him/her or his/her legal representative.

- Apply to the Courts Service to obtain a transcript of a court hearing that was held in sentencing deliberations of the offender.

For the purpose of considering parole applications, variations to conditions or release dates outlined in a public order or revocations of a parole order, under Section 13(2) the board has the power to request written reports by or on behalf of Irish justice agencies or clinicians working with applicants. When a report is requested under this section, the board will outline all matters that need to be addressed in the report. It may include one or more of the following: sentence details; conduct of applicant; risk or likelihood of reoffending; ability to comply with conditions outlined in the parole order; level of rehabilitation achieved thus far; ability to reintegrate into society; and risk to the public or victim. Parole will only be granted if the prisoner does not pose an undue risk to the public.

Part 3 of Act

Part 3 of the Act outlines the parole process. For example, under Section 24(1), eligibility for parole for individuals serving life imprisonment sentences has increased from 7 years to 12 years. For individuals who are serving prison sentences that exceed those outlined in the regulations, following engagement with the board, the Minister may impose imprisonment of not less than 8 years, and the portion of imprisonment that needs to be served by a person before eligible for parole.

In some circumstances, individuals may not be eligible for parole. For example, in relation to drug offences, under Section 24(12), where an individual is serving a specified minimum sentence of imprisonment under Section 27(3A) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, pursuant to subsection (3C) or (3F) or that section, he/she shall not be eligible for parole before the minimum term has expired. Where parole applications have been refused or revoked, applicants will not be eligible to reapply for parole prior to the date specified by the board (Section 24(5) and (6)).

Conclusion

This legislation has been welcomed by Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan TD, who views it as a ‘ground-breaking piece of legislation’ that will ensure that the way decisions are made by the Parole Board are ‘open, transparent, fair and fully informed’.2 The Irish Penal Reform Trust has long campaigned for the establishment of an independent Parole Board. Its executive director, Fíona Ní Chinnéide, has stated that this legislation will ‘provide more clarity and independence in decision-making on the release of eligible prisoners’.2

1 Parole Act 2019. Available online at: http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2019/act/28/enacted/en/print#part3

2 Staines M (2019) People sentenced to life in prison must serve at least 12 years under new law. Newstalk. 11 July. Available online at: https://www.newstalk.com/news/life-sentence-parole-881671

Item Type
Article
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Policy
Issue Title
Issue 73, Spring 2020
Date
May 2020
Page Range
pp. 10-13
Publisher
Health Research Board
Volume
Issue 73, Spring 2020
EndNote

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