How to complain

  1. Who can complain?
  2. What complaints can be investigated?
  3. How to complain
  4. Checklist
  5. What happens next?

Who can complain?

If you have made a complaint to the Judicial Office for Scotland about the conduct of a member of the judiciary, and you are dissatisfied with how your complaint was handled, you can complain to the Judicial Complaints Reviewer.

Members of the judiciary about whom a complaint has been made, who are dissatisfied with its handling, may also complain.

Someone else can make a complaint on your behalf, but only if you give your permission in writing.

What complaints can be investigated?

My remit, which is set out in law (The Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008), only allows me to accept complaints about the way in which the Judicial Office for Scotland has handled investigations into complaints about members of the judiciary. I cannot review the outcome of those investigations, cannot get decisions overturned and cannot get redress for you (such as an apology or compensation). I can only look at whether or not the Rules were followed (the Complaints about the Judiciary (Scotland) Rules 2016). I can carry out reviews on behalf of the person who made the original complaint, or the judicial office holder who was the subject of that complaint.

I do not have the power to reinvestigate or to overturn the Judicial Office's decisions. However, if you think that their investigation was not conducted according to the Rules, I can carry out an independent review to check that the proper procedure was followed. If I find that the Rules were not followed, I must make a referral to the Lord President, the Head of the Judiciary in Scotland.

The Lord President then has four options. He can:

  • “vary or revoke the determination made in the case (or part of the determination)”
  • “cause a fresh investigation to be carried out”
  • “confirm the determination in the case or”
  • “deal with the referral in such other way as the Lord President considers appropriate”.

Once I make a referral, the matter is out of my hands and it is up to the Lord President to decide what happens next. The Lord President’s decision is final.

How to complain

I cannot become involved until you have completed the Judicial Office’s complaints process. Information on how to do this can be found on their website.

You can complain to me:

  • Via this website, using the complaint form
  • By post, Judicial Complaints Reviewer, PO Box 6651, BLAIRGOWRIE, PH10 9AS

Unfortunately I am unable to see personal callers or accept complaints by fax. However if you wish to speak to me you can leave me a message on 07814919837 and I will endeavour to call you back within 5 working days

I do not normally review complaints that were closed by the Judicial Office for Scotland more than four months ago. However, if there is a very good reason for a delay in requesting a review, I will consider accepting it. Please explain the reasons for the delay when you first make contact.

Checklist

When submitting a review request, please ensure that you include:

  • Your name, address, telephone number(s) and email address (if you have one)
  • Your reasons for believing that the Judicial Office for Scotland has failed to follow the Rules in conducting its investigation. Please explain in as much details as possible. You might find it useful to look at the Rules to help you identify any areas where they were not followed
  • Copies of any relevant documentation that is unlikely to be in the case file held by the Judicial Office for Scotland (I will obtain copies of any correspondence between you and the Judicial Office). Please do not send the originals
  • If your review request is outwith the four-month deadline, please explain your reasons for being unable to submit it sooner
  • If someone is making a review request on your behalf, please sign the complaint letter to confirm that you have given permission for them to pursue it on your behalf

What happens next?

I will acknowledge your correspondence and check that your request falls within my remit. If it does, I will undertake a review. If not, I will write explaining why I am unable to become involved and where possible, I will suggest who might be able to help you.

While I aim to complete reviews thoroughly yet speedily, please bear in mind that the time it takes to complete a review will depend upon factors such as how complex and lengthy your original complaint was, how long it takes me to get all of the necessary information and paperwork, and how many other complaints are awaiting review.

Once my review is complete, as is normal practice, I will send a copy to the Judicial Office for Scotland so that they can comment on factual accuracy.  You will then receive my findings and my reasons for reaching them. If I find that the Rules were not followed, I will refer your case to the Lord President. If your case raises wider issues about the procedures for the handling of complaints, I will ensure that these are brought to the attention of the Lord President, even in cases where your complaint is not upheld. In that way, the service for others can be improved.

In order to inform the public of my work, I may publish anonymised details of my reviews on this website. I will never publish anything which indentifies individuals, unless they have given permission.