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How to Complain About a Family Court Judges in England

Updated: Mar 11, 2023


Contents:


Can I Complain against a Judge in the UK?

Yes, in England you can complain about the conduct of a Judge in courts. You can also do so in Scotland however there is a different process. You can also complain about anything that happened in court, ie the behaviour of administrative staff. The complaint must be made within 3 months.



What can you complain about in the Court?


You can complain about the

  • About the service you received at the court

  • The way the administrative staff handled your case

  • The facilities provided within the court

  • About the treatment of the staff towards you within the court

However, please remember a court cannot consider a complaint regarding the decision of the judge.


If you want to make a complaint about the personal conduct of a judge, then you have to submit a complaint to the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office.


How Can I Make a Complaint about Something that happened in the Court?



The details of process of making a complaint against a Family Court Judge are provided below;


- You must send the complaint to the court where the issue occurred. you should write a letter detailing what happened, and if you have any steps you want the court to take to improve, you can include that in your letter also.


- Most likely, the court staff will be able to deal with your complaint. You can expect to receive a response in around 10 days.


- If you are displeased with the way the court staff handled your case, you can further ask for an Independent Review Manager to look at the issue.


- If you are still unhappy or dissatisfied with the response, then your case will be escalated for an assessment to the Customer Investigation Team.




Where should I complain about a Family Court judge?


As mentioned earlier, if you want to make a complaint about the personal conduct of a judge, then you have to submit a complaint to the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office.


The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office has the authority to deal with complaints about the these types of judges;


  • Deputy District Judge

  • High Court Judge

  • Lord Justice

  • District Judge

  • Coroner / Assistant Coroner

  • Master

  • Recorder

  • Circuit Judge

What can you complain about a Family Court Judge?


The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office can only consider the complaint about the personal conduct of a judge. It is to be noted that you cannot complain about the decision of a judge or the way the case was conducted by the judge.


You can make a complaint about the following;

  • The use of offensive, sexist or racist language

  • Inappropriate use of social media in court

  • Misusing the judicial status for personal advantage or gain

  • Falling asleep in the court

You will need to provide the following information while making a complaint;

  • Your name and address

  • The date of the offense/issue

  • The name of the Judge who you are lodging a complaint against

  • Any other specific details you want to complain about. For example, if you feel the judge was rude during the proceeding, you have to explain why you felt the judge was rude. You have to provide example(s) of behaviour shown or language used.

Apart from this, it will be helpful if you can include the below mentioned information;

  • The relevant case number

  • The name of the court where the hearing took place

  • Details of any third party who witnessed such inappropriate behavior or language used by the judge to support your complaint

How to make a complaint about a Family Court Judge online?


The following are the procedure to make a complaint online here,

- You can file a complaint online.


- The complaint filed should be acknowledged by the Judicial Conduct Investigation Office within 2 working days.


- Within 15 working days a case worker will reply to you.


- The staff of the Judicial Conduct Investigation Office will give you an update regarding your complaint every 4 weeks from the date of filing the complaint.


- Accordingly, they will provide you with a written explanation of the result or outcome when your complaint reaches a conclusion.


What can you do if you are not happy with the outcome of your complaint?


If you are unhappy with the outcome of your complaint, then you can contact the Judicial Appointments and Conduct Ombudsman within 28 days of your issue being closed with the Judicial Conduct Investigation Office.


You will need to download and complete the Judicial Conduct Complaint Form.


This can be emailed to headofoffice@jaco.gsi.gov.uk or you could post the form to the below mentioned address;


Judicial Appointments and Conduct Ombudsman

9.53, 9th Floor,

The Tower, 102 Petty France

London, SW1H 9AJ


What will happen once you have submitted the complaint to the Ombudsman?


The following things may happen once you have submitted the complaint to the ombudsman;


- The Ombudsman will inform you in writing if they will accept or reject your complaint.


- If the ombudsman choose to consider your complaint further, they will have access and get your complaint file from the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office.


- The ombudsman will also conduct a detailed initial screening to determine whether they must complete a complete investigation. If they find no maladministration, you will be provided a report within around 6 weeks stating why they are not planning on doing a full investigation.


- If the Ombudsman believes that a full investigation is needed, then the investigating officer will be assigned to conduct a thorough investigation of your complaint which may take several months to complete, the exact length depending on the situation.


- The investigating officer then will report the investigation of your complaint to the Ombudsman, who will decide the outcome of your case. Accordingly, the ombudsman will make a decision in a report and will sent the report to the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice for their comments.


- After receiving the comments, the ombudsman will finalize the report and will send a copy to you.


What are the possible outcomes after the Ombudsman has considered the complaint?


The following are some of the outcomes after the Ombudsman consider the complaints;


- The ombudsman may disregard the decision by the Judicial Complaints Office and completely redo the investigation


- They may recommend that the investigation should be considered by a Disciplinary Panel.

It may direct or ask the Judicial Conduct Investigation Office to write an apology letter about any mistakes they made in their initial investigation process.


- It may also choose to make changes in the systemic flow of the way work is handled by the Judicial Conduct Investigation Office to ensure nothing like this occurs again


- They may also suggest you receive financial compensation if the ombudsman believe you have suffered any level of financial loss due to the mishandling or your complain or the issue itself.


Note: This article is not a piece of legal advice and must not be treated as legal advice.


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