If you would like to make a complaint about the conduct of a Judge you should write to the Judicial Conduct Commissioner. All complaints about the conduct of a Judge are to be sent to the Commissioner in the first instance.
The process is intended to help maintain public confidence in the Judicial system, and to protect its impartiality, integrity and independence.
Anyone can complain about a Judge, but complaints may only be made about the conduct of a Judge, whether inside or outside court. You cannot use this process to complain about a decision a Judge has made. If you do not agree with a Judges decision, in most cases it can be reviewed by another judicial authority or appealed to a higher court.
When considering a Judges conduct, you should be aware that it is sometimes necessary for Judges to be assertive in their manner. Judges must manage the court so that the proceedings are dealt with efficiently and effectively, without undue delay. If you feel that a Judge has dealt with you too briefly, it may be for this reason.
Complaining about a Judge is a serious matter. While Parliament makes laws, Judges interpret and apply laws to people who appear in court. Judges must be independent of Government. They have protection for anything they do while performing their duties so that they are able to make decisions which are right in law and fairly arrived at, without being influenced by any other factors.
Making a complaint
A complaint has to be made in writing to the Judicial Conduct Commissioner at the following address:
Judicial Conduct Commissioner
Office of the Judicial Conduct Commissioner
PO Box 2661
Your written complaint has to:
- identify the Judge you are complaining about;
- identify yourself; and
- state what your complaint is about.
The Commissioner will give reasonable assistance to enable you to complete the above steps.
The Commissioner will have to dismiss your complaint if it does not include all of the above information.
The Commissioner will confirm in writing that he or she has received your complaint. The Judge you are complaining about may also be notified and may receive a copy of your complaint.
Because complaining about the conduct of a Judge is so serious the Commissioner may ask that you complete a statutory declaration about your complaint. Refusal to do so will result in your complaint being dismissed. The Commissioner will give reasonable assistance to enable you to complete a statutory declaration if required.
The law requires the Commissioner to conduct a preliminary examination of the complaint. During the examination, and in accordance with the principles of natural justice, the Commissioner may make any enquiries and look at any relevant court documents. At the conclusion of the preliminary examination, the Commissioner must take one of the following steps:
- dismiss the complaint (section 16);
- refer the complaint to the Head of Bench (section 17);
- recommend that the Attorney-General appoint a Judicial Conduct Panel to inquire into any matter concerning the conduct of the Judge concerned (section 18).
In some cases a complaint may be deferred (e.g. if the complaint relates to matters currently being dealt with by a court).