The second annual report of the Judicial Commission of Victoria (the Commission) was tabled in State Parliament on 14 November 2019.
Since the Commission was established in July 2017, it has played a valuable role as Victoria’s first independent body investigating the conduct and capacity of judicial officers and VCAT members.
“The Commission plays an important role in ensuring the high standards of conduct the community expects of the judiciary are maintained,” said the Chair of the Commission, Chief Justice Anne Ferguson.
“It also provides people with an accessible and robust avenue through which to make complaints,” the Chief Justice said.
The Commission received 248 new complaints and one referral in its second year, slightly less than the 264 received the previous year. A further 77 complaints and referrals remained open from the previous year. Of the 326 matters:
· 251 were dismissed
· 5 were referred to a Head of Jurisdiction
· 1 was referred to an investigating panel
· 12 were withdrawn
· 61 remained open as at 30 June 2019
Most of the complaints were made by members of the public with a small proportion made by members of the legal profession. There was also a referral made by the State Attorney General about the conduct of a Magistrate. This matter is still open.
Under the Judicial Commission of Victoria Act 2016, the Commission can investigate complaints about the conduct or capacity of judicial officers and VCAT members, but not complaints about the correctness of a decision made by a judicial officer or VCAT member. It is not a substitute for the appeals process.
Half of the complaints received were about an alleged incorrect decision. A further 29% alleged a failure to give a fair hearing and 23% claimed bias. Other complaints included claims of rudeness, corruption and conflict of interest.
15% of complaints alleged inappropriate