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FARE: Judicial Complaints Process Welcomed


Media Release - 8 March 2001 - For immediate release

Judicial Complaints Process Welcomed - But Will It Help?

"Many have welcomed the establishment of a judicial complaints process, and the appointment of Sir John Robertson as Judicial Complaints Lay Observer. However, the system that has been established appears so weak that it is difficult to see how it can improve the performance of the Judiciary" Darryl Ward, spokesperson for Families Apart Require Equality (FARE), said today.

"The poor performance of the judiciary in recent times, mostly in the Family Court, has badly damaged their credibility and forced the Government to put this new judicial complaints process in place. Judges have demonstrated distressing tendencies to be highly gender-biased, to make politically based decisions rather than considering the evidence in front of them, and to ignore the rules of evidence. Public dissatisfaction with the Judiciary is rapidly increasing. Protests in front of Family Courts are now commonplace.

"The judicial complaints process is so weak it is difficult to see it being more than window dressing. Complaints can only be "about a judges language or behavior, the conduct of a judge". So if the judge shouts or picks his or her nose, you can complain. You cannot for instance use this process to complain about a decision of a judge that is gender biased, or that needlessly imposes sole custody and breaks up your family.

"The penalties that can be imposed on judges under the judicial complaints process are trivial. A judge can be asked to apologize or offered "assistance to avoid a re-occurrence of the inappropriate conduct". There are no powers to fine a judge, suspend the warrant of a judge, or order compensation for victims.

"The real causes of public dissatisfaction with the Judiciary are not addressed by this new judicial complaints process.

"FARE advises all citizens who are mistreated by Judges and the Courts to lodge complaints with the judicial complaints process. The more complaints received the more their failings will be highlighted. However, people should not expect any satisfaction from this judicial complaints process, nor should they expend too much time, money or emotional energy in making complaints. You will achieve more by going to see your local Member of Parliament". concluded Ward.


Enquiries to Darryl Ward 025 230 1667

Sir John Robertson can be contacted at the following address. A booklet is available.

Write to:

The Judicial Complaints Lay Observer

Box 2538


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