Former Chief Justice Frank Clarke has submitted his resignation as a judge of the Dubai International Financial Center Courts.
The move comes after a controversy, for reasons including the poor human rights record of the political administration in Dubai, surrounding the appointments last week of Mr Clarke and former High Court president Peter Kelly to the Dubai court.
In a statement released on Saturday, Mr Clarke, who is also chair of the Law Reform Commission here, said that, when he was first approached about becoming president of the commission, he had informed the Government of the likelihood that he would be appointed to the Dubai International Financial Center Courts (DIFCC).
“I understood it to be the case that this did not give rise to any difficulty,” he said in the statement.
“Before my appointment as president of the Law Reform Commission, I had also publicly mentioned the possibility of my appointment to the DIFC Courts in a Sunday Business Post podcast,” the statement said.
“Ireland and many Irish companies do significant business in and with Dubai and in that context it is important that there be an Independent and trusted dispute resolution system available to those companies.”
The statement continued: “However, I am concerned that the current controversy could impact on the important work of the Law Reform Commission to which I am committed. In those circumstances, I can confirm that I have today submitted my resignation as a judge of the DIFC courts to the Chief Justice of that court.”
In a virtual ceremony last Tuesday, the two retired Irish judges, along with two other retired judges from other jurisdictions, were sworn in as judges of the DIFC courts before Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president and prime minister of the UAE, ruler of Dubai and president of the DIFC.
Sheikh Mohammed, according to a report in the Khaleej Times, highlighted the importance of constantly enhancing the DIFC’s judicial framework in order to further raise the confidence of the local and global business community.
The DIFC courts were established to serve international institutions operating in Dubai and the UAE. They began operating in 2006 and, unlike other areas of Dubai, do not operate sharia law but are an Independent English language common law judiciary based in the DIFC, with jurisdiction governing civil and commercial disputes nationally and worldwide.
Mr Clarke retired as Chief Justice in October, but has since rejoined the Law Library, engaging mainly in mediation work. In addition to his position as president of the Law Reform Commission, a part-time role commanding a €59,000 salary, he is also chairman of the Civil Legal Aid Review committee.
Mr Kelly retired as president of the High Court two years ago. Both men were obliged to retire after turning 70. It is understood that the position of judge of the DIFC courts is a part-time role and payment is on an hourly basis.