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New judicial complaints process

Hon Dr Michael Cullen
Attorney General

1 August 2005 Media Statement

New judicial complaints process

From today a new independent Judicial Conduct Commissioner will consider all complaints about judicial conduct.

Attorney General Michael Cullen said the government was committed to enhancing public confidence in the Judiciary while adhering to the principle of judicial independence.

“The Judicial Conduct Commissioner and Judicial Conduct Panel Act 2004, which comes into effect today, reflects an important balance between these goals. It establishes a transparent and accessible process for people to make complaints about the conduct of Judges and allows for a full investigation of those complaints.

“Hitherto there was no process set out to inform Parliament whether a senior Judge should be removed from office for misbehaviour,” Dr Cullen said. “Fortunately, there are few complaints about the conduct of Judges and removing a Judge has never been necessary in New Zealand.”

The Commissioner may recommend that the Attorney-General establish a Judicial Conduct Panel to investigate complaints that if established, could warrant removal of a Judge.

New Zealand’s first Judicial Conduct Commissioner is Ian Haynes ONZM.

“As a longstanding and prominent member of the legal profession, Mr Haynes is superbly qualified for the job,” said Dr Cullen.

“This Act does not change the ability of Parliament to recommend to the Governor-General that a senior Judge be removed from office, and it does not change the grounds on which a Judge could be removed. Instead it ensures that Parliament has a proper basis for any decision to remove a Judge.”

“I am confident that the new procedures will enable fair consideration and determination of all complaints about judicial conduct,” said Dr Cullen.

ENDS

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