An event to officially establish a new body to oversee the justice system has taken place at the Four Courts in Dublin.

The Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has described the establishment of the Judicial Council as a "landmark moment in the history of our State."

The Judicial Council Bill passed all stages of the Oireachtas before the summer.

The new council will have a number of functions.

It will facilitate the education and training of judges an will provide a mechanism for investigating complaints.

It will also establish sentencing guidelines and guidelines for awarding damages in injury claims.

At the Four Courts this evening Minister Flanagan said the primary function of the council was to promote and maintain excellence in the exercise by judges of their judicial functions and high standards of conduct among judges.

The first meeting of the full council will take place in February.

The establishment of the Council was also described as a turning point for the judiciary and in the administration of justice in Ireland.

The Chief Justice Frank Clarke said its overriding function would be to promote and maintain public confidence in the judiciary and the administration of justice.

A number of committees will be set up to carry out the functions of the judicial council.

Work has begun setting up processes relating to the recruitment of lay persons to some committees, securing appropriate exchequer funding, the appointment of an Interim Secretary and work designed to enhance the ability of the committees, including the Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee.

One of the committees will be the Judicial Studies Committee, whose function will be to ensure the continuing education of judges.

There will also be support committees for each of the Court jurisdictions.

The Council's Personal Injuries Guidelines Committee will be the first of the committees to be established in line with the timescale set out in legislation.

The Chief Justice said this was another area where work has already commenced in order that Personal Injuries Guidelines can be produced within the time-lines set out in the Act.

A sentencing guidelines committee will also be established and will include lay members.

The Chief Justice said it was hoped this committee would be established by the Judicial Council at its first meeting in February.