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Two new judges for Gibraltar's Supreme Court

Two Gibraltarians have been appointed to serve as judges in Gibraltar's Supreme Court.

John Restano, QC, and Liam Yeats were appointed as Puisne Judges by the Governor, Lieutenant General Edward Davis, who was acting on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission in line with the Constitution of Gibraltar.

The appointments bring the number of Supreme Court judges back up to four following the departure of Adrian Jack, whose three-year contract was not renewed when it expired in 2016.

One of the current three judges, Puisne Judge Christopher Butler, is poised to retire this summer having extended his initial three-year contract for a further three years.

Mr Yeats, who has served as Registrar of the Supreme Court of Gibraltar and Additional Stipendiary, as well as acting Puisne Judge for short terms, has been appointed on a permanent basis until the statutory retirement age of 67.

Mr Restano has been appointed on a fixed three-year contract.

The decision to recruit a fourth judge comes against the backdrop of increased workload for the Supreme Court, which handles both criminal and complex commercial matters, as well as civil and family cases.

The court has not had a complement of four judges for nearly two years, since the departure of Mr Jack.

Mr Jack left Gibraltar after his fixed three-year contract came to an end and was not renewed by the JSC, a decision that attracted some controversy at the time.

Since then, Chief Justice Justice Dudley has on two occasions publicly signalled the court’s rising workload and explained that complex cases can dramatically increase the demands on judges.

The Judicial Service Commission conducted the selection process for the two posts in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the Judicial Service Act.

The posts were advertised in Gibraltar and in England and attracted a significant number of applicants, some of whom were shortlisted and interviewed by a board chaired by the President of the Court of Appeal, Sir Maurice Kay.

BACKGROUND
Mr Restano and Mr Yeats both have extensive backgrounds in the legal profession.

Mr restano was called to the Bar in 1994 and joined the Litigation Department of Hassans, where he was made a Partner in 2000.

In 2014, Mr Restano was appointed QC and in 2015 he became a Door Tenant at 3 Hare Court in London.

Mr Restano’s practice for the last 25 years has been varied and in recent years has been focused on Public Law and Human Rights, Commercial and Trusts litigation.

In addition, over the last few years as well as acting as mediator, Mr Restano has carried out various judicial and quasi-judicial roles.

He is married and has two daughters aged 12 and 14.

Mr Yeats was admitted and enrolled as a Barrister of the Supreme Court of Gibraltar in 1997 and spent six years in general practice before joining Her Majesty’s Attorney General’s Chambers as a Crown Counsel in 2003.

In 2011 he was promoted to Senior Crown Counsel, becoming the Deputy to the Attorney General.

Mr Yeats was then appointed Registrar of the Supreme Court of Gibraltar and Additional Stipendiary Magistrate and took up office in 2013.

He has been acting as a Puisne Judge on short-term appointments since July 2016.

Mr Yeats is married with two sons aged 16 and 13.