Master of the Rolls in Ireland

Last updated

The Master of the Rolls in Ireland was a senior judicial office in the Irish Chancery under English and British rule, equivalent to the Master of the Rolls in the English Chancery. Originally called the Keeper of the Rolls, he was responsible for the safekeeping of the Chancery records such as close rolls and patent rolls. The office was created by letters patent in 1333, the first holder of the Mastership being Edmund de Grimsby. As the Irish bureaucracy expanded, the duties of the Master of the Rolls came to be performed by subordinates and the position became a sinecure which was awarded to political allies of the Dublin Castle administration. In the nineteenth century it became a senior judicial appointment, ranking second within the Chancery behind the Lord Chancellor of Ireland. The post was abolished by the Courts of Justice Act 1924, passed by the Irish Free State established in 1922.

Contents

History of the Office

Until the sixteenth century the Master of the Rolls was always a clergyman. The office in its early centuries was closely associated with St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin: several Masters of the Rolls served as either Dean or Prebendary of the Cathedral. The office was originally an administrative rather than a judicial office, and not all of the early Masters were qualified lawyers. As late as the mid-sixteenth century the office was held by John Parker, a layman who had made a fortune from selling hats; nor was his successor, Henry Draycott, as far as is known, a lawyer. At that time, as the older title Keeper of the Rolls suggests, the Master's principal role was to have custody of the Chancery records.

Francis Blackburne, Master of the Rolls 1842-6 FrancisBlackburne.jpg
Francis Blackburne, Master of the Rolls 1842-6

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the office of Master was notoriously a sinecure for absentee politicians. Some of the appointments have been described as "farcical". Richard Rigby is said never to have set foot in Ireland during the 30 years he held the office, and William FitzGerald, 2nd Duke of Leinster, who succeeded him, had no qualifications whatever for judicial office.

Nineteenth-century reforms

In the nineteenth century the office became a full-time judicial position: the Master acted as Deputy to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, with full powers to hear any lawsuit brought in the Court of Chancery. A number of gifted judges, including Sir Michael Smith, Edward Sullivan and Andrew Marshall Porter greatly enhanced the reputation of the office. Michael O'Loghlen was notable not only as a fine judge but as the first Roman Catholic appointed to the Bench since 1688. The office was offered to Daniel O'Connell, who admitted that it was the only office he truly wanted but who nonetheless refused it. Charles Andrew O'Connor, the last holder of the office, was sufficiently highly regarded to be appointed a judge of the new Supreme Court of the Irish Free State.

Supersession

The 1922 Constitution of the Irish Free State prescribed a new court system for the new State but allowed the existing system, based on the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Ireland) 1877, to persist as a transitional measure. [1] In 1923, Charles Andrew O'Connor as Master of the Rolls participated in the Judiciary Committee established by the Free State Executive Council which planned the Courts of Justice Act 1924. [2] In this capacity he caused controversy by refusing to admit an affidavit written in Irish because he did not know the language. [2] When the 1924 Act was passed, O'Connor became a judge of the new Supreme Court. [2] The officers of the Chamber of the Master of the Rolls were transferred in 1926 to the Examiner's Office. [3]

List of Masters of the Rolls in Ireland

Office abolished 1924. II

See also

Related Research Articles

Court of Chancery court of equity in England and Wales

The Court of Chancery was a court of equity in England and Wales that followed a set of loose rules to avoid the slow pace of change and possible harshness of the common law. The Chancery had jurisdiction over all matters of equity, including trusts, land law, the estates of lunatics and the guardianship of infants. Its initial role was somewhat different: as an extension of the Lord Chancellor's role as Keeper of the King's Conscience, the Court was an administrative body primarily concerned with conscientious law. Thus the Court of Chancery had a far greater remit than the common law courts, whose decisions it had the jurisdiction to overrule for much of its existence, and was far more flexible. Until the 19th century, the Court of Chancery could apply a far wider range of remedies than common law courts, such as specific performance and injunctions, and had some power to grant damages in special circumstances. With the shift of the Exchequer of Pleas towards a common law court and loss of its equitable jurisdiction by the Administration of Justice Act 1841, the Chancery became the only national equitable body in the English legal system.

Lord Chancellor Highest-ranking regularly-appointed Great Officer of State of the United Kingdom

The Lord Chancellor, formally the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, is the highest ranking among those Great Officers of State which are appointed regularly in the United Kingdom, nominally outranking the Prime Minister. The Lord Chancellor is outranked only by the Lord High Steward, another Great Officer of State, who is appointed only for the day of coronations. The Lord Chancellor is appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister. Prior to the Union there were separate lord chancellors for England, for Scotland and for Ireland.

Lord Chief Justice of Ireland

The Court of King's Bench was one of the senior courts of common law in Ireland. It was a mirror of the Court of King's Bench in England. The Lord Chief Justice was the most senior judge in the court, and the second most senior Irish judge under English rule and later when Ireland became part of the United Kingdom. Additionally, for a brief period between 1922 and 1924, the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland was the most senior judge in the Irish Free State.

John O'Byrne was an Irish judge and barrister who served as a Judge of the Supreme Court, Judge of the High Court from 1926 to 1940 and Attorney General of Ireland from 1924 to 1926.

The Supreme Court of Ireland is the highest judicial authority in Ireland. It is a court of final appeal and exercises, in conjunction with the Court of Appeal and the High Court, judicial review over Acts of the Oireachtas. The Supreme Court also has jurisdiction to ensure compliance with the Constitution of Ireland by governmental bodies and private citizens. It sits in the Four Courts in Dublin.

Courts of the Republic of Ireland

The Courts of Ireland consist of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the High Court, the Circuit Court, the District Court and the Special Criminal Court. With the exception of the Special Criminal Court, all courts exercise both civil and criminal jurisdiction, although when the High Court is exercising its criminal jurisdiction it is known as the Central Criminal Court.

Hugh Kennedy Attorney General and Chief Justice of the Irish Free State

Hugh Edward Kennedy KC was an Irish Fine Gael politician, barrister and judge who served as Chief Justice of Ireland from 1924 to 1936, a Judge of the Supreme Court from 1924 to 1936 and Attorney General of Ireland from 1922 to 1924. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin South constituency from 1923 to 1927. As a member of the Irish Free State Constitution Commission, he was also one of the constitutional architects of the Irish Free State.

The High Court of Ireland is a court which deals at first instance with the most serious and important civil and criminal cases. When sitting as a criminal court it is called the Central Criminal Court and sits with judge and jury. It also acts as a court of appeal for civil cases in the Circuit Court. It also has the power to determine whether or not a law is constitutional, and of judicial review over acts of the government and other public bodies.

The chief justice of Ireland is the president of the Supreme Court of Ireland. The current chief justice is Frank Clarke.

Judiciary of England and Wales

There are various levels of judiciary in England and Wales — different types of courts have different styles of judges. They also form a strict hierarchy of importance, in line with the order of the courts in which they sit, so that judges of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales are generally given more weight than district judges sitting in county courts and magistrates' courts. At 31 March 2006 there were 1,825 judges in post in England and Wales, most of whom were circuit judges (626) or district judges (572). Some judges with United Kingdom-wide jurisdiction also sit in England and Wales, particularly Justices of the United Kingdom Supreme Court and members of the tribunals judiciary.

A master is a judge in the courts of England and in numerous other jurisdictions based on the common law tradition. A master's jurisdiction is generally confined to civil proceedings and is a subset of that of a justice. Masters are typically involved in hearing trials, case management, and in some jurisdictions dispute resolution or adjudication of specific issues referred by judges.

Courts of Justice Act 1924 National law of the Irish Free State

The Courts of Justice Act 1924 was an Act of the Oireachtas that established a new system of courts for the Irish Free State. Among the new courts was the Supreme Court of the Irish Free State, and the first Chief Justice of the Irish Free State was also appointed under the Act.

The Court of Chancery was a court which exercised equitable jurisdiction in Ireland until its abolition as part of the reform of the court system in 1877. It was the court in which the Lord Chancellor of Ireland presided. Its final sitting place was at the Four Courts in Dublin.

Thomas Molony Irish judge

Sir Thomas Francis Molony, 1st Baronet, PC(Ire), QC (1865–1949) was the last Lord Chief Justice of Ireland. He was also the only Judge to hold the position of Lord Chief Justice of Southern Ireland although he did not hold that position under that title.

Judges Council

The Judges' Council is a body in England and Wales that, representing the judiciary, advises the Lord Chief Justice on judicial matters. It has its historical roots in the original Council of the Judges of the Supreme Court, created by the Judicature Act 1873 to oversee the new Supreme Court of Judicature. This body initially met regularly, reforming the procedure used by the circuit courts, and the new High Court of Justice but met less regularly as time went on, meeting only twice between 1900 and 1907, with a gap of ten years between meetings in 1940 and 1950 respectively. After relative inactivity, it was eventually wound up through the Supreme Court Act 1981, which contained no provisions for its continued existence, something Denis Dobson attributes to newer bodies which performed the duties the Council had originally been created to do.

Charles Andrew O'Connor PC was an Irish judge, who served as the last Master of the Rolls in Ireland, and one of the first judges of the Supreme Court of Ireland. His judgement in a crucial habeas corpus case R. (Egan) v. Macready, is still influential.

Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Ireland) 1877 United Kingdom Law over Ireland

The Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Ireland) 1877 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that brought about a major reorganisation of the superior courts in Ireland. It created a Supreme Court of Judicature, comprising the High Court of Justice in Ireland and the Court of Appeal in Ireland. It mirrored in Ireland the changes which the Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1873 had made in the courts of England and Wales.

The High Court of Justice in Ireland was the court created by the Supreme Court of Judicature Act (Ireland) 1877 to replace the existing court structure in Ireland. It mirrored the reform of the courts of England and Wales five years earlier under the Judicature Acts. The Act created a Supreme Court of Judicature, consisting of a High Court of Justice and a Court of Appeal.

John Chevir was an Irish judge and politician of the fifteenth century. He held the offices of Lord Chief Justice of Ireland and Master of the Rolls in Ireland, and was also one of the first recorded Speakers of the Irish House of Commons.

The Clerk of the Crown and Hanaper was a civil servant within the Irish Chancery in the Dublin Castle administration. His duties corresponded to the offices of Clerk of the Crown and Clerk of the Hanaper in the English Chancery. Latterly, the office's most important functions were to issue writs of election to the Westminster Parliament, both for the Commons and for Irish representative peers in the Lords.

References

  1. "Constitution of the Irish Free State". Irish Statute Book . 1922. Articles 64–72, 75–76. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 Dougherty, James I. (22 April 2009). From the Ashes Arose Justice: The Creation of an Irish Judiciary, 1922–1924 (PDF) (Thesis). Carnegie Mellon University: Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  3. "Court Officers Act, 1926 section 13". Irish Statute Book . Retrieved 21 September 2016.

Sources