Discipline rules changed
LEGISLATION due to be gazetted today will see judicial officers suspected of misconduct examined under a separate structure from other civil servants.
The new provision, whereby the Chief Justice would recommend disciplinary action to the Governor, is seen as a move to underline the independence of judicial officers.
These officers include registrars, deputy and assistant Supreme Court registrars, magistrates, Labour Tribunal presiding officers, Lands Tribunal members, Small Claims Tribunal adjudicators and coroners.
At present, judicial officers other than judges are subject to the same disciplinary provisions, outlined by the Letters Patent, as other civil servants.
This allows the Governor to dismiss such officers, like civil servants, under an equal set of internal investigation procedures.
When the Judicial Officers (Tenure of Office) Bill is published today it will empower the Chief Justice to appoint a tribunal to investigate alleged misconduct.
The tribunal will normally consist of two Supreme Court judges and one public officer. The Judicial Service Commission, led by the Chief Justice, will then consider the tribunal's report and recommend action.
Officers can be dismissed, retired, have their rank reduced or be reprimanded if the case against them is proven. The Chief Justice will also be empowered to suspend officers while disciplinary proceedings are taking place.