New guidelines published on judicial conduct
The guide for all members of the judiciary includes a 'Statement of Expected Behaviour' to ensure that office holders are aware of the standards expected of them.
The new guidance, published on 27 July, is intended to assist judges, tribunal members, coroners and magistrates in relation to their conduct. A news release to announce the guide says it is "based on the principle that responsibility for deciding whether or not a particular activity or course of conduct is appropriate rests with each individual judicial office holder".
The guide is not a code, and does not contain rules, other than where stated. Instead, it contains a set of core principles which will help judicial office holders reach their own decisions.
In January 2023, the Lord Chief Justice and Senior President of Tribunals asked the Judicial HR committee, a representative body for the entire judiciary, to revise the guide again to reflect changes in wider aspects of judicial and public life.
Summary of key changes:
- The Statement of Expected Behaviour has been included to ensure that all judicial office holders are aware of the standards expected of them
- It clarifies how judicial office holders should behave in a manner consistent with the expectations of court staff, as well as towards their colleagues and anyone else with whom they interact in the workplace
- Conflict of interest guidance has been updated so judicial office holders without legal training, including magistrates and non-legal members, can identify potential conflicts requiring recusal or disclosure to parties and know what steps to take if such conflicts arise
- Media Guidance and Social Media Guidance for the judiciary have been updated with the latest versions
- Gender-specific pronouns have been removed
- Where guidance applies to everyone within the scope of the guide, it uses the term “judicial office holder”. The term “judge” is retained where the guidance applies only to judges
- Several other minor amendments have been made, including removing references to the European Parliament and local justice areas, clarifying to what extent the Declaration and Undertaking signed by magistrates upon appointment applies to former magistrates on the Supplemental List, and clarifying who needs to be notified if a judicial office holder intends to appear before a court or tribunal as a witness.