April 20: The nine judges of Ireland’s Supreme Court are concerned about holding physical hearings during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Chief Justice Frank Clarke said as the court conducted its first ever hearing using remote video technology on Monday. 

The country’s Chief Justice said concerns included that if one member of the court contracted the virus, others could also become infected and the knock-on effect this could have on other sittings taking place. 

During a case management hearing, he said remote sittings were likely to prove suitable for most if not all cases in appellate courts such as the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, but that different considerations would apply in trial courts. 

The Chief Justice and the various legal teams were based in their homes for the case management hearing, which concerned an appeal involving Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) against the Government and various State parties, due for hearing on June 22. 

FIE is appealing the High Court’s rejection of its claim that a Government plan for tackling climate change is flawed and inadequate. The Supreme Court registrar, John Mahon, was based in court Number 29 of the Four Courts for the hearing. A court reporter was also present to address the constitutional requirement that justice be administered in public.


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