TUESDAY, NOV. 6: The Ministry of Justice is committed to ensuring that the Judiciary is provided with the tools necessary to discharge its tasks fairly, justly and expeditiously, and to abide by the requirement of the judicial oath “to do right by all manner of people, without fear, favour, affection or ill will.”

Thus, measures will be implemented to safeguard the integrity of the Judiciary by ensuring that it serves the public as intended and to prevent adjudicators from succumbing to the temptation to abuse the enormous powers they wield.  All members of the Judiciary seek to maintain the highest standards of personal and professional conduct.  This is as true here in Bermuda as it is in all other jurisdictions. 

However, the absence of a ‘Judicial Complaints Authority’ to address complaints from members of the public with respect to judicial conduct of rulings in Court proceedings separate and apart from the right to appeal Magistrates or Judges decisions; is a glaring omission in our domestic regime. 

The public is therefore denied the right to seek redress in such circumstances of abuse of power, and the system is denied a means of correcting and improving itself and to maintain a level of professionalism that is indispensable to effective adjudication. The establishment of a Judicial Complaints Authority will correct this omission and bring Bermuda in line with other modern reputable jurisdictions.

The Authority will be charged with addressing complaints about the personal conduct of judges and other types of judicial office holder.  Possible misconduct may include the use of insulting, sexist or racist language in court, or inappropriate behavior outside the court such as a judge using their judicial title for personal advantage or to obtain preferential treatment.

The administrative section of the judiciary, which is charged with providing the services and support necessary to enable the judiciary to achieve its mission will be enhanced by the creation of two new administrative bodies.

The first is an independent Department of Court Administration to give the administrative arm of the Judiciary greater autonomy in line with Commonwealth best practice and the principle of judicial independence. 

Such a Department would have appropriate control over its own budget allocation and be able to establish 'fit for purpose' human resources policies for its staff as courts in most modern developed democracies are able to do.  For example, at present administrative staff who have access to highly sensitive information are apparently subject to the same vetting procedures as staff hired in far less sensitive areas of the Public Service.

In addition to the Department of Court Administration, a Judicial Service Committee will be formed to advise the Governor on Judicial appointments, terms and conditions of service and disciplinary matters as an informal alternative to a constitutional Judicial Service Commission. 

At present at hoc committees are established to advise the governor on judicial appointments from time to time with the result that no sustained review of judicial service needs takes place. 

It is our aim to ensure the fair and proper administration of justice with new administrative enhancements and measures to strengthen the judicial framework and benefit members of the community.