Constitutional Affairs written question – answered on 12th February 2004.

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Photo of Gordon Prentice Gordon Prentice Labour, Pendle

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many complaints he has received in the last 12 months from members of the (a) legal profession and (b) public, concerning the competence of named judges; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Constitutional Affairs)

From 1 January to 31 December 2003, 1,113 complaints about members of the judiciary were received in the Judicial Correspondence Unit. The Unit does not keep statistics to allow the identification of complaints relating to 'judicial competence'. However, figures for the number of complaints relating to judicial decisions are available and show that 455 such complaints were received. Of these, 11 came from members of the legal profession and the remaining 444 from members of the public.

The principle of judicial independence, which is central to our constitutional arrangements, means that it is not open to the Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor or his Department to consider complaints about judicial decisions. However, the Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor does consider complaints about the personal conduct of individual Judges and other judicial office holders.

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