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Judicial Complaints Lay Observer Appointed

The Attorney-General, Hon Margaret Wilson, has announced the appointment of Sir John Robertson KCMG CBE, as the Judicial Complaints Lay Observer.

The Judicial Complaints Lay Observer is a new position, created to allow for the independent review of the handling of complaints about the conduct of members of the judiciary. The Lay Observer will handle situations where the conduct only of judges is involved, not their decisions.

"We are fortunate to have an appointee of Sir John's calibre to carry out this important new function. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from his former public service and Ombudsman roles," said Ms Wilson.

Sir John Robertson is a public sector consultant to national and international agencies. His current activities include Project Director for an Ombudsman Commission strengthening project in Papua New Guinea. He was appointed Ombudsman for New Zealand in 1984 and in 1986 became Chief Ombudsman, a role he held until 1994. Sir John was also President of the world body of Ombudsmen - the International Ombudsman Institute - from 1992 to 1994. He was Secretary for Justice from 1979 -1982 and Secretary of Defence from 1969 - 1979.

Members of the public who have a complaint about the behaviour of a judge must make their complaint in writing to the relevant Head of Court. If the Head of Court decides that the complaint does not have substance, the complainant may refer the matter to the Lay Observer. The Lay Observer has the power to review the complaint, the way it was processed, any response from the Judge, and any other matters that may be relevant. If the Lay Observer considers that a decision not to pursue the complaint should be reviewed, the Lay Observer can request the relevant Head of Court to reconsider it.

Sir John takes up his new role immediately. He can be contacted by writing to

The Judicial Complaints Lay Observer
Box 2538
Wellington

A booklet, Judicial Complaints Process is available. It gives a full description of the complaints process

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