OJC contends with 1,600 judicial criticisms in first year

The Office of Judicial Complaints (OJC) received more than 1,600 criticisms of judicial office holders in the past year, leading to 32 disciplinary actions.

That said, in its first annual report the OJC said that 51 per cent of these complaints related to judicial decisions, which are outside its scope.

Of the 904 valid complaints that related to judges’ conduct, disciplinary action was taken against two judges from the mainstream judiciary – ie excluding coroners, tribunal officials and magistrates. In the case of tribunals, two complaints were upheld, while 28 were allowed for magistrates.

Exactly half of the complaints received led to the judiciary member being removed from office, while 13 officials were reprimanded and three received formal warnings and advice.

The reasons for disciplinary actions included being subject to criminal proceedings, misuse of judicial status and inappropriate behaviour or comments.

Dale Simon, head of the OJC, said the office used its first year to concentrate on developing processes to meet customers’ needs.

The publication of the annual report comes just weeks after Mr Justice Peter Smith was referred to the OJC by the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice for his conduct in a recusal hearing.