The number of complaints against members of the judiciary accusing them of inappropriate behaviour or comments has risen by 39% in just two years, it has been revealed.
In its annual report for 2010/11, the Office for Judicial Complaints said there had been 456 such complaints during the course of the year, compared to 422 in 2009/10 and 328 in 2008/09.
The OJC received a total of 1,638 complaints during the last 12 months, up 4% from 1,571 the previous year and up 22% on the 1,339 received two years ago.
However, the report pointed out that the vast majority of complaints received (64%) related to judicial decisions or judicial case management rather than judicial misconduct. The OJC has no power to deal with those types of complaints, which are dealt with through the court process.
Other types of complaint included: not fulfilling judicial duty (30); criminal or other court proceedings/convictions (24); discrimination (24); professional conduct (10); and misuse of judicial status (9).
The number of complaints made against individual judicial offices were as follows:
- Court of Appeal: 41
- Court of Protection: 10
- High Court: 84
- Circuit Bench: 397
- Coroner: 35
- District Bench: 661
- Magistrate: 661
- Tribunals (combined): 21
- Not defined: 325
Some 29 cases led to the removal of the member of the judiciary concerned, while 28 saw a reprimand. A further 25 resigned.
Guidance was meanwhile issued in 12 cases, and formal advice given in 11. One member of the judiciary received a warning.
At the end of the reporting period the OJC was investigating 239 complaints.