Complaints about judicial officers

Community confidence in the judiciary and their decisions is integral to the judicial system: court users and members of the public have a right to expect that judges and magistrates will behave impartially, courteously, ethically and to the highest standards of judicial conduct. The Judicial Commission’s complaint function enhances judicial accountability by:

  • ensuring complaints about the ability and behaviour of judicial officers are investigated quickly, effectively and objectively
  • promoting good practices and high standards of judicial performance
  • improving public confidence in the administration of justice.

The Judicial Officers Act 1986 provides a means for people to complain about the ability or behaviour of judicial officers (but not their decisions) and to have those complaints examined by an independent body. Our complaint function is protective: we have no power to discipline judicial officers, only to protect the public from judicial officers who are not fit for office or lack the capacity to discharge their duties. Our function is also to protect the judiciary from unwarranted intrusions into their judicial independence. The Commission cannot:

  • provide legal advice or legal representation
  • review a case for judicial error, mistake or other legal grounds
  • investigate a complaint about a matter that is currently before a court
  • discipline or sanction a judicial officer
  • investigate allegations of criminal or corrupt conduct
  • investigate a complaint about a retired judicial officer, federal judicial officer, arbitrator, assessor, registrar, chamber registrar, member of a tribunal or legal practitioners.