Supreme Court Clarifies Rights of Accused in Ruling

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (“the Commission”) has noted the Supreme Court’s ruling today in The Director of Public Prosecutions v JD, an important case that centred on the right to a fair trial and specifically the rights of accused people.

In its ruling, the Court held that a Circuit Court trial judge was incorrect in law in directing the jury to return a verdict of not guilty on a count of endangerment in circumstances where the garda investigation did not include an interview with the accused.

The case involved a man charged with several offences of which only one (a count of endangerment) was an indictable offence, thereby requiring a judge and jury trial. In November 2017, the trial judge at Longford Circuit Court found that fair procedures had not been observed by the Gardaí in their failure to interview the man in relation to the indictable offence and accordingly directed the jury to find him not guilty in respect of that charge. The case was successfully appealed at the Court of Appeal and subsequently went before the Supreme Court, which granted the Commission liberty to exercise its Amicus Curiae (‘friend of the court’) function.

In this capacity, the Commission made a submission to the court advising that so far as practicable, there is an onus on investigating authorities, in so far as practicable, to put a suspect on notice of any allegation which may result in a charge. This requirement is an aspect of the fair trial right enshrined in Article 38.1 of the Constitution. A failure by the investigating authorities to secure the account of an accused can hinder the effectiveness of the investigative process and the fairness of a trial.

Sinéad Gibney, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:

“The Commission was grateful for the opportunity to participate as Amicus Curiae in this important case in relation to fair trial rights and we note the judgement of the Supreme Court.”


For further information, please contact:
Sarah Clarkin, IHREC Communications Manager,
01 852 9641 / 087 468 7760
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Editor’s Note

The full written submissions made by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission as Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court) in DPP vs JD are published at the following link:

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.