The role of the Judicial Conduct Committee is set out in Section 43 of the Judicial Council Act 2019. This Committee is independent in the performance of its functions which are to promote and maintain high standards of conduct among judges. Those functions have regard to stated principles of judicial conduct which require judges to uphold and exemplify judicial independence, impartiality, integrity, propriety (including the appearance of propriety), competence and diligence and to ensure equality of treatment to all persons before the courts. Those principles are central to the Guidelines for Judicial Conduct and Ethics.pdf which were drafted by the Committee and subsequently adopted by the entire Judicial Council in February 2022.
These objectives are sought to be achieved through a number of stated functions:
- Considering complaints in relation to the conduct of judges
- Taking any necessary action necessary to safeguard the administration of justice
- Preparing guidelines concerning judicial conduct and ethics and procedures for the processing of judicial complaints
On the 3rd of October 2022 the Minister for Justice commenced the provisions of the Act which enable a person to make a complaint about the conduct of a judge in Ireland in respect of allegations of misconduct arising on or after that date. The Committee considers complaints from people which have been determined to be admissible. “Admissible” means that the complaint has met certain statutory criteria to reach the stage where the Committee can consider how the matter might be resolved or investigated.
It is important to be aware of the scope of the judicial conduct framework. It is a framework governed by the Act and the Procedures. The information provided is not legal advice and is not intended to be legal advice. It is strongly recommended that a person considering making a complaint read the information contained on this page and familiarise themselves with the relevant parts of the following:
Complaints procedures - Section 52.pdf
Guidelines for Judicial Conduct and Ethics.pdf
Judicial Council Act 2019
Making a Complaint
This information is intended to assist you by providing information about the complaint process.
There are two ways to make a complaint to the Judicial Council;
- By clicking on the “Make a Complaint” button at the bottom of this page. Read and complete the online Complaint Form and click Submit.
- By post. Complaint forms are available to download and print here Complaint Form.pdf or by contacting the Judicial Council by phone or email and we will send you a form. Our phone number is 01 888 6261 and our email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Complete the complaint form and post it to The Registrar to the Judicial Conduct Committee, The Judicial Council, Green Street Courthouse, Green Street, D07 W568.
What happens after my complaint is lodged?
When you submit a complaint, you will be sent an acknowledgement that it was received.
The Registrar will then decide on the admissibility of your complaint based on the information provided and taking into account the matters which have to be considered in section 53 of the Judicial Council Act 2019 and also in the Complaints Procedures . It is important to be aware that the complaint must be made in compliance with those procedures, including that
- The complaint must be in writing
- The Registrar may request you or the judge to give any additional information concerning the complaint which the Registrar may reasonably require for the purpose of his determination on the admissibility of the complaint
What decisions can the Registrar make after my complaint is lodged?
If the Registrar decides that your complaint, or part of it, is admissible it is referred to the Judicial Conduct Committee. The Committee will decide if your complaint may be dealt with by informal resolution with your consent, or refer the complaint to a Panel of Inquiry for investigation.
If your complaint is inadmissible, the Registrar shall inform you in writing of the reasons why. You then have 30 days to seek a review in writing of the Registrar’s determination.
You will be informed at each stage of the process of the next steps.
What is the role of the Judicial Conduct Committee and what happens once a complaint is admitted?
Where a complaint has been admitted by the Registrar or the Complaints Review Committee, the Committee will consider the alleged judicial misconduct. Complaints must be made within three months from the date of the conduct complained of, though the Committee has power to extend that period in certain circumstances. The Committee may consider whether the complaint is suitable for resolution informally. This will only arise where the complainant and the judge consent to this process. As the name suggests, this involves a process to ascertain whether the complaint can be resolved without having to follow the formal statutory process to carry out an investigation.
If a complaint is not suitable to be resolved informally, the Committee will convene a Panel of Inquiry to carry out an investigation. That Panel will comprise a judge from the same court as the judge complained of, a judge from a different jurisdiction and a lay member of the Panel of Inquiry appointed by the Government.
The Committee may also, in the absence of a complaint about a judge’s conduct, but where it considers it necessary to safeguard the administration of justice, refer a matter for investigation by a Panel of Inquiry. The Panel of Inquiry has various powers under the Act and the procedures developed by the committee. Those powers include conducting a hearing in relation to the matter. There are a number of options available to the panel in the course of the investigation but ultimately it will lead to the panel preparing a report for the committee. That report will include matters such as cooperation by the parties with the process, whether the complaint is proven, if so the reprimand which should be applied, and whether there is a concern in relation to the health of the judge arising which has become apparent. In the case of a reprimand the panel can recommend advice to the judge, a specific course of action or admonishment, as well as any further matter to safeguard the administration of justice.
The Committee, having considered the report, has further powers which may result in the complaint being referred back to the panel or leading it to a determination as to whether the complaint has been substantiated. It may decide that no action is required, adopt the recommendation of the panel or refer the matter to the Minister for Justice for the purpose of Article 35.4 of the Constitution.
Where the judge is required to follow a course of action decided upon by the committee, the committee will monitor compliance. Failure to comply by that judge may also result in a referral to the Minister.
Further information in relation to the Judicial Conduct Committee is available hereMake A Complaint