Employment judge first to fall foul of new misconduct rules

An employment judge has become the first to be publicly censured under new rules that will see all judges and magistrates who are disciplined for misconduct have their cases publicised by the Office for Judicial Complaints (OJC).

Kenneth Clarke
Kenneth Clarke

Previously only high-profile cases of serious offences have prompted the OJC to make a statement, but after an internal review the Lord Chancellor Ken Clarke and Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge have updated the publication policy in relation to judicial conduct matters to include more minor reprimands.

The new rules came into force on 1 June and last week (8 June) employment judge Neeta Amin became the first to have her formal warning publicised following a delayed judgment, failure to meet her minimum sitting requirements in 2009 and failure to respond to correspondence from the Employment Tribunal.

An OJC spokesman said: “The Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice found Judge Amin’s conduct to be below the standard of service expected of a judicial office holder in this respect and have issued Judge Amin with a formal warning.”

The move is designed to improve the openness and transparency of the complaints system.

A statement will normally be placed on the OJC website following a disciplinary sanction following a finding of misconduct.

It used to be made public only when a judge was suspended, removed – as in the case of wife-beating Judge James Allen QC (2 November 2011) – or if the case attracted significant media attention, such as Lord Justice Thorpe’s cow-feeding driving ban defence (13 January 2012).

Those relating to less serious punishments will be removed after five years, but Judge LCJ and Clarke can review publication based on the merits of the case.

The majority of disciplinary action taken by the OCJ is against magistrates who have not met the minimum number of sittings.