DCA creates ombudsman role for judicial complaints

The Department of Constitutional Affairs (DCA) today (29 June) announced the creation of a new ombudsman to investigate judicial complaints.

An Office for Judicial Complaints (OJC) is also being set up, to handle judicial discipline. The ombudsman will review the OJC’s handling of complaints about judicial conduct.

The DCA has launched a recruitment campaign for the ombudsman. The successful candidate will not be connnected with the law or the judiciary, and will be paid £50,000 for two days a week work.

The OJC and the ombudsman have been set up following the passing of the Constitutional Reform Act earlier this year. They will be launched along with the new Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) in April 2006. The process to select the 15 commissioners is underway.

According to Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, the ombudsman will help ensure the transparency of the judicial system.

Last year the Judicial Correspondence Unit, which currently deals with judicial complaints, received 250 allegations of judicial misconduct. Only 11 of those were referred for judicial investigation.